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On the front cover: 

The Brewster F2A-1 was the first aircraft assigned to 
VMF'22S when it was commissioned on 1 May 1942 at the 
Marine Corps Air Station Ewa, Oahu^ Hawaii. (USMC Photo 



First Lieutenant Brett A. Jones, USMC 


PCN 19000413900 

For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing OfiSce 
Washington, B.C. 20402 

Stock Number 008-055-00132-3 


This history is one of a series being prepared by the Marine Corps History and Museums 
Division to bring to light the achievements of individual squadrons while at the same time 
showing the growth and development of Marine aviation. Marine Attack Squadron 223 has 
a long and illustrious career of outstanding accomplishments and has produced some of the 
finest aviators in the history of the Marine Corps. This work sketches the achievements and 
personalities that have made VMA-223 such an outstanding Marine squadron. 

The author, First Lieutenant (now Captain) Brett A. Jones, was a member of VMA-223 
from February 1974 to July 1975 and worked closely with the History and Museums staff to 
produce this monograph. First Lieutenant Jones graduated from Oklahoma State 
University in December 1971 with a Bachelor of Science degree in sociology. Upon 
graduation he was commissioned in the Marine Corps and sent to Pensacola for flight 
training. After a brief tour in Yuma he joined VMA-223. 

The History and Museums Division welcomes any comments on the narrative and 
particularly requests additional information or illustrations which might enhance a future 


Brigadier General, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret) 
Direaor of Marine Corps History and Museums 

Reviewed and Approved : 
15 June 1978 



This history was compiled for the purpose of providing a concise and accurate record of a 
distinguished squadron's accomplishments. It is the author's belief that a thorough 
knowledge of the past contributes immeasurably to the development of strong unit in- 
tegrity. Just as *'Espirit de Corps" is instilled in a Marine by a thorough knowledge of 
Marine Corps history, unit pride can be instilled by the awareness of unit's ac- 

The history of Marine Attack Squadron 223 has been one of constant endeavor. The 
original "Bulldogs" at Guadalcanal initiated a tradition that has continued for over 30 
years. It is sincerely hoped that this work will assist in the continuation of that tradition. 

The History and Museums IDivision provided the research materials for the monograph 
and the editing was done by several of the History and Museums staff members. Mr. James 
S. Santelli and Major William J. Sambito initially edited the manuscript, and Lieutenant 
Colonel Gary W. Parker completed the monograph for publication. 

First Lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps 



Foreword iii 

Preface v 

Table of Contents vii 

From Birth to Guadalcanal 1 

From the Solomons to Okinawa 5 

A Force in Readiness: 1946-1950 11 

Entering the Jet Age 14 

Vietnam 20 

The Return to Garrison 27 

Footnotes 31 

Appendix A: Chronology 33 

Appendix B: Commanding Officers 35 

Appendix C: Streamer Entitlement - 37 


A History of Marine Attack Squadron 223 

From Birth to Guadalcanal — From the Solomons to Okinawa— A Force in Readiness: 1946-1930 — 
Entering the Jet Age — Vietnam — The Return to Garrison 

From Birth to Guadalcanal 

The devastating attack on Pearl Harbor by the 
Japanese in December 1941 had decimated the 
aircraft of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW) 
leaving only 15 planes which were considered combat 
worthy. Marine Fighting Squadron (VA/[F) 223 was 
commissioned at the Marine Corps Air Station 
(MCAS) Ewa, Oahu, Hawaii on 1 May 1942 in an 
effort to help restore the combat potential of the 1st 

The squadron's immediate function was to 
conduct local operations on the Hawaiian Sea 
Frontier as part of the newly formed Marine Aircraft 
Group (MAG) 23. Under the leadership of Captain 
John L. Smith, the first commanding officer of the 
* *Rainbow' ' squadron , later to become known as the 
**Bulldogs," the unit began training operations in 
the Brewster F2A fighter. Captain Smith, a 28-year- 
old native of Lexington, Oklahoma, was to dis- 
tinguish himself as an aviator during World War II, 
and his leadership was to bring VMF-223 into the 
spotlight in the air over Guadalcanal . 

When World War 11 began the Marine Corps land- 
based squadrons in the Pacific were flying the F2A, 
built by Brewster in the late 1930s. The Brewster 
was powered by a Wright R-1820-24 engine which 
could produce 1 ,200 horsepower at 2,500 revolutions 
per minute (rpm); the plane could attain an airspeed 
of 323 miles per hour and had a service ceiling of 
34,000 feet. It was armed with four wing-mounted 
.50 caliber machineguns and could carry two 100- 
pound bombs . As was demonstrated in the Battle of 
Midway, 4-6' June 1942, the aircraft was unable to 
oope with Japanese fighters and was appropriately 
dubbed the Brewster ** Buffalo." It soon was 
replaced by superior aircraft.^ 

As early as June 1942, Admiral Chester M. 
Nimitz, Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet, had 

designated all four squadrons of MAG-23 for the 
defense of a beachhead on Guadalcanal. According to 
the plan, the forward echelon of MAG-23, consisting 
of VMF 223 and Marine Scout Bombing Squadron 
(VMSB) 232 and commanded by Major Richard C. 
Mangrum, would be flown to the airstrip on 
Guadalcanal from a carrier. Both squadrons lacked 
carrier experience; nearly all the pilots were fresh 
from flight school where they had logged about 275 
hours apiece in SNJ trainers. The veteran Japanese 
naval pilots they would face averaged approximately 
800 hours of flight time prior to the bombing of Pearl 
Harbor. The VMF-223 aviators, except for Captains 
Smith, Rivers J. Morrell, Jr., and Marion E. Carl*, 
and one veteran enlisted pilot. Technical Sergeant 
John D. Lindley, were second lieutenants ranging in 
age from 19 to 21 and had been in the Marine Corps 
for only a few months. 

The squadrons sailed tor Guadalcanal on board the 
escort carrier USS hong Island (CVE 1) on 2 August 
1942. Prior to departure, the Buffalo was replaced 
with the new Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat. This plane 
became the standard fighter for Marine pilots during 
the early actions of World War II. This single-seat, 
carrier fighter was powered by a Pratt and Whitney 
R-1830-56' engine which produced 1,200 horsepower 
at 2,500 rpm and had a maximum airspeed of 332 
miles per hour with a service ceiling of 34,300 feet. 
The aircraft was equipped with racks for two 250- 
pound bombs, one under each wing, or the bombs 
could be replaced with external fuel tanks. Six .50 
caliber machineguns, three in each wing, and six 
five-inch rockets completed the Wildcat's ar- 

* Rivers J. Morrell, Jr., retired from the Marine Corps in 
July 1959 as a brigadier general. Marion E. Carl rose to the 
rank of major general and retired in June of 1973. 

276-044 0-79-2 

USMC Photo 35714 

The Grumman F4F Wildcat fighter had a 1200-horsepower Pratt & Whitney engine. This land /carrier -based 
aircraft was the standard naval fighter during the early Pacific war. 

The Long Island and its escorts stopped at the 
island of Efate, New Hebrides, where Captain Smith 
traded eight of his inexperienced pilots for better 
qualified pilots from Major Harold W. Bauer's 
VMF-212.* On the afternoon of 20 August, the 
Long Island, accompanied by the cruiser VSS Helena 
(CL 50) and destroyer USS Dale (DD 353), launched 
the Marine planes about 200 miles southeast of 
Guadalcanal. At 1700, MAG-23 began landing at 
Henderson Field, named in honor of Major Lofton R. 
Henderson, a Marine aviator who was killed earlier 
in the war while leading Marine dive bombers in the 
Battle of Midway. "A shout of relief and welcome 
went up from every Marine on the island," reported 
Lieutenant Herbert L. Merillat.^ The arrival of 
MAG-23 and the Rainbow squadron coincided with 
the first bloody battle that Major General Alexander 
A. Vandegrift's 1st Marine Division fought on 

Just after midnight on 21 August 1942 firing broke 
out about 3,000 yards east of Henderson Field and 
the Battle of the Tenaru River had started. The 
Japanese were reinforcing their command on 
Guadalcanal with 900 troops of the Ichiki Detach- 
ment** via the "Tokyo Express",*** The Ichiki 
Detachment attacked the Marines early in the 
morning and was slaughtered. Japanese intelligence 

* Bauer later received the Medal of Honor for action against 
the enemy over Guadalcanal. 

* *These troops were from the detachment of Colonel Kiyone 
Ichiki which was originally scheduled to take Midway. 

***The Japanese destroyers and transports which trans- 
ported troops from New Britian and the Northern Solomons to 
Guadalcanal became known as the "Tokyo Express . ' ' 

had grossly underestimated the U.S. strength at 800- 
1000 troops instead of a division. At daybreak the 
pilots of VMF-223 unleashed the fury of their 
Wildcats on the enemy, catching many of the 
Japanese on the beach. The strafing runs were the 
first shots fired in anger by the VMF-223 pilots. 

At noon, about 19 hours after their arrival at 
Guadalcanal, the VMF-223 pilots had their first taste 
of aerial combat . Captain Smith was the first to down 
an enemy Zero, but his victory was lessened by the 
loss of an F4F which crash-landed on Henderson 
Field after being severely shot up. The score 
remained one to one for the day. 

Prior to VMF-223's arrival at Guadalcanal, Rear 
Admiral Raizo Tanaka, the Tokyo Expressman, had 
gathered a force at Rabaul, New Britain, which he 
mistakenly considered formidable enough to dislodge 
the Marines from the island. The enemy had a 
special naval landing force of 800 men and an Army 
detachment of 700 men. This time the Japanese 
would support the landing with three carriers and 
three destroyers. American intelligence reported this 
movement, and the carriers USS Enterprise (CV 6), 
Saratoga (CV 3), and Wasp (CV 7) waited for the 
enemy force about 100 miles southeast of Guadal- 
canal. On 24 August, the Cactus Air Force**** met 
the enemy aircraft from the carrier Ryujo and the 
Battle of the Eastern Solomons was underway. At 
1420 the two MAG-23 squadrons augmented by five 
Army P-400s,***** which had arrived from New 

* * * *Cactus was Guadalcanal's code name. 

*****The P-400 was the early version of the Bell P-39 
fighter equipped with a 20mm cannon, two .50 caliber and four 
.30 caliber machineguns. 


USMC Photo 50516 

Caledonia; intercepted an enemy flight of 15 bombers 
and 12 fighters. These Japanese aircraft never 
reached Henderson Field. The Marines shot down 10 
bombers and half of the fighters. Captain Carl alone 
was credited with two bombers and a fighter. The 
victory was not without its cost; three of Captain 
Smith's pilots, Second Lieutenants El wood R. Bailey, 
Lawrence C. Taylor, and Roy A, Corry, failed to 
return, and one pilot was shot down and later 

From the beginning of the war and especially after 
Bataan and early New Guinea fighting, many 
American aviators regarded the Zero and its pilots as 
opponents of malevolent perfection. During the 
Battles of the Coral Sea and Midway, the enemy 
gained more prowess and the U.S. fighter pilots were 
acquiring a distinct inferiority complex. On 24 
August the Rainbow squadron and the other units at 
Guadalcanal destroyed the theory that the Zero was 

On the 26th, as VMF-223 enjoyed continued 
success against enemy air raids. Captain Carl shot 
down two more planes becoming the second Marine 

USMC Photo 52801 

Wildcats on the fighter strip at Guadalcanal, Note 
runway and living conditions {above). Marine air- 
crews use dirt and chemicals to save a burning 
Wildcat set afire by a Japanese air raid on 
Guadalcanal {lefi). 

Corps ace.* Aerial combat on the 29th resulted in 
four enemy fighters and four enemy bombers 
destroyed, and the following day another 14 enemy 
aircraft were sent flaming to earth . The score 
continued to favor the Rainbow pilots as the air 
action over Guadalcanal increased. 

Marines learned very early in the war not to 
dogfight with the more maneuverable Zero. Instead, 
the enemy's bombers became the primary targets. 
As the bombers approached, usually 26 at a time in a 
series of '*V" formations, it was possible for the 
Wildcats to dive on the bombers and destroy a few 
before the Zeros jumped the Grummans. The tactics 
which evolved and remained, while the Marines were 
flying the F4F, were primarily hit-and-run; a direct 
overhead or a high -side attack on the bombers 
(avoiding their tail guns), one quick burst at an 
attacking Zero, and then run. If a pilot unin- 
tentionally became entangled in a dogfight with the 
faster, better climbing Zero, it was necessary to rely 
on his wingman to shoot the enemy off his tail , which 
is where the Zero could usually be found. This two- 
plane mutually protecting tactic evened the odds. 

Conditions at Guadalcanal were miserable and 
were continually growing worse. The field was either 

* Colonel Gregory **Pappy*' Boyington, a lieutenant in 
1941, resigned his commission to fly with the famed Flying 
Tigers*' of China. During his months with the * 'Tigers, " 
Boyington shot down six Japanese planes. Upon his return to 
the Marine Corps in September 1942, he was awarded the 
distinction of being the Corps' first ace. 


a bowl of black dust or a quagmire of mud. Refueling 
had to be done by hand from 5 5 -gallon drums and 
radio communications from Henderson Field did not 
exist beyond 20 miles. The diet for the Marines 
consisted of dehydrated potatoes, Spam, or cold hash, 
and sometimes Japanese rice. Malaria and dysentery 
became constant companions. Sleep in mud -floored 
tents was constantly interrupted by bombardments 
from Japanese ships and planes. Enemy cruisers, 
destroyers, and submarines often lay offshore lobbing 
shells at Henderson Field. 

VMF-223 joined other elements of MAG-23 on 2 
September 1942 in intercepting a 40-plane enemy 
raid. During the ensuing battle, the squadron 
downed another seven enemy aircraft. On the 12th, 
the island was hit with a bombardment from seven 
Japanese destroyers while 42 enemy planes attempted 
to obtain air superiority . The Cactus Air Force shot 
down 15 of the attacking planes, but the airfield 
received several hits. Meanwhile, enemy troops 
attacked just south of Henderson Field. The 
following day, while ground units were fighting the 
Battle of Bloody Ridge, the field was attacked three 
more time by aircraft. The airfield, although severely 
damaged, remained firmly in Marine hands. 

During the months of August and September 
1942, Guadalcanal was continually augmented by 
aircraft and pilots from various commands. TTie 
carriers USS Hornet (CV 12) and the Wasp, after 
receiving battle damage, sent some of their F4Fs 
ashore until the flattops could be repaired. The 
growing Cactus Air Force intercepted 31 Japanese 
planes over Henderson Field on 27 September and 11 
enemy aircraft were destroyed. The next day the 
Emperor's "Eagles" from Rabaul in New Britain 
arrived with a flight of 55 planes determined to 
neutralize Marine aviation on Guadalcanal. Once 
again the determined American pilots met the 
enemy, this time sending 24 of the attacking planes 
to a watery grave. Of those destroyed, VMF-223 was 
credited with seven. The Japanese, determined to 
make the island a major battleground, sought air 
supremacy and control of the sea, but once again the 
enemy had underestimated the air force necessary to 
achieve their goal. 

Captain Marion E. Carl was shot down early in 
September 1942 and was listed as missing in action 
for five days. His journey back to Cactus was an 
adventure many pilots had to face during the war in 
Pacific. Captain Carl gave the following account of 
that incident: 

Bullets began flying all over the place. The cockpit 
filled up with smoke blinding me. I never did get a look at 
what was on my tail before I bailed out. 

The parachute opened at 10,000 feet and I floated down 
off Near Island a few miles off the coast of Guadalcanal, 
about 30 miles from home, I was dunked into the ocean 
400 yards off the island and started to swim to shore, I got 
within hailing distance of the beach, but the current 
prevented me from landing. 

I was just about to give up when a native boy paddled 
out in a canoe, grabbed me, and hauled me aboard more 
dead than alive. 
After being taken ashore, the native gave Captain 
Carl a drink of coconut milk and then brought the 
aviator from the island to a native village on 
Guadalcanal where he was fed and housed for the 

The natives agreed to take me to headquarters the next 
morning. Before we got out of the village, a Japanese 
party began heading for it. I went into the jungle and hid. 
Early the next morning we started home. Two native 
police and a large group of native villagers accompanied 
me. On the way I found a deserted radio shack and spent 
four hours trying to get it going. 

We went a short way further on when we encountered 
large groups of natives fleeing in our direction. They told 
us there were 2,000 Japanese between us and the U,S. 
headquarters and that it was impossible to get through 

Captain Carl was then taken to the hut of an 
educated native who had studied medicine. The man 
had a small launch and agreed to take the young pilot 
up the coast to headquarters. 

We planned to leave at three-thirty that day, but the 
engine wouldn't start, I was a former aeronautical 
engineer so I spent all the rest of the day taking it apart 
and finally got it running. We left at dawn and had no 
trouble arriving. 

Captain Carl's first question when he arrived was 
"What's Smitty's score?" He grimaced when he 
was told that Major John L. Smith, his closest 
competitor, had shot down a total of 16 planes and 
pulled ahead of Captain Carl during the five days that 
he was missing. "Ground him for five days. 
General," Captain Carl said to Brigadier General 
Roy S. Geiger, commander of the 1st MAW. ' 'That 
will give me a chance to catch up . " * 

Keeping records was one of the last priorities 
during the autumn of 1942. Even the original name 
of the island, "Guaduiicanar," was changed, 
probably due to a misprint or mispronunciation that 
stuck.' It was not possible to say who was flying from 
Guadalcanal at any given time. An example of this 
occurred on 3 October 1942, when a Japanese air 
attack was met by 29 fighters; 15 were from the 
Navy's Fighter Squadron (VF) 5, five from VMF- 


223, and nine from VMF-224 (including two pilots 
on temporary duty from VMF-212). With the units 
becoming so entangled, almost anybody could be 
your wingman. 

The action in the skies over Guadalcanal during 
September and early October cost the lives of five 
VMF-223 second lieutenants: Zennith A. Pond, 
Noyles McLennan, Richard A. Haring, Willis S. 
Lees in, and Charles Kendrick.^ After the first week 
of October, the Japanese air raids ceased. The uneasy 
calm lasted until 1220 on the Uth when radar at 
Henderson Field reported two flights of unidentified 
aircraft at 138 miles heading toward Guadalcanal. 
The aircraft at Guadalcanal were scrambled, in- 
cluding 16 planes from VMF-223, and they in- 
tercepted the invading force of 34 bombers and 29 
Zeros. Seven bombers and four Zeros were destroyed 
and the remaining enemy aircraft had to turn back 
when they were unable to locate Henderson Field 
because of a low overcast which blanketed the island. 

This enemy armada, which had the mission of 
destroying the airfield, was only the air portion of a 
large invading force. Two cruisers and six destroyers 
were steaming toward Guadalcanal carrying a 
landing force complete with heavy artillery and 
tanks. U.S. intelligence had located this task force 
and **search and destroy" ships were en route to 
intercept the enemy convoy. The American warships 
surprised the Japanese at Cape Esperance and dealt 
them a devastating and costly defeat. 

After less than two months of combat, MAG-23 
packed its equipment, readied its aircraft, and 
departed Guadalcanal on 13 October 1942 bound for 
California. The Rainbow squadron had, during its 
short time at Henderson Field, written a new chapter 
in Marine Corps aviation. VMF-223 had been the 
first Marine fighter squadron to arrive in the 
Solomons. Major John L. Smith had led his pilots on 
multiple combat missions during which the squadron 
accounted for 83 Japanese aircraft destroyed. For his 
action during this period. Major Smith was awarded 
the Medal of Honor. Also during the struggle for 
Guadalcanal, Captain Carl earned his second Navy 
Cross for extraordinary heroism in aerial combat. 
Captain Carl's first award of the Navy Cross came 
during the Battle of Midway. These two men. Smith 
and Carl, contributed greatly to the success of 
Marine aviation in Guadalcanal by downing a total of 
37 1/2 enemy aircraft, 19 and 18 1/2 respectively. 
The final tally of enemy aircraft destroyed by the 
Cactus Air Force between 20 August and 12 October 

USMC Photo 11984 

Major John L Smith, USMC, who was credited 
with downing 19 Japanese aircraft and subsequently 
received the Medal of Honor. 

was an impressive 111 1/2. In recognition of this 
achievement, those units supporting the 1st Marine 
Division on Guadalcanal and neighboring Tulagi 
received the Presidential Unit Citation. 

From the Solomons to Okinawa 

Marine Fighting Squadron 223 arrived at San 
Diego on 17 October 1942 and remained in A/IAG- 
23, which was also arriving from Guadalcanal. VMF- 
223 's personnel were given leave from 16 November 
to 4 January 1943, then the squadron began 
reorganizing and training. On 26 January Major Carl 
became the new commanding officer of VMF-223. 

On 27 May 1943, for reasons unknown, the 
Rainbow squadron changed its nickname and became 
the VMF-22 3 * *Bulldogs . ' ' The change in nickname 
was followed the next month by a change in squadron 

During June, VMF-223 received 18 Vought- 
Sikorsky F4U4 Corsairs to augment its inventory of 
F4F Wildcats and North American SNJ trainers. 
The F4U was a single seat, low -wing monoplane 
powered by a single Pratt and Whitney 2,000- 
horsepower engine. Capable of climbing to over 
35,000 feet, the Corsair was the first American 


fighter to reach speeds in excess of 400 miles per 
hour.^ The "U-birds," as they were called, became 
the standard fighter for Marines during the 
remainder of World War 11. Because of the sound and 
effectiveness of the diving Corsair, the Japanese 
name for this plane meant ' 'Whistling Death . ' ' 

On 22 June, First Lieutenant Alexander H. 
Edwards was engaged m mock aerial combat with 
Major Carl and made a tight left turn which stalled 
his F4U causing his plane to go into an inverted spin . 
Lieutenant Edwards noticed that he was in a spin at 
5,500 feet and bailed out at 3,300 feet when he was 
unable to get his Corsair under control. After he had 
bailed out , the plane came out of the spin and crashed 
about eight miles east of El Toro. Except for a bruised 
nose and a bruised ego, the young pilot escaped 

On 18 July 1943, the squadron terminated flight 
operations at the Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS), 
El Toro and completed final preparations for 
redeployment to the Pacific. EHiring the previous six 
months of training , the squadron had operated with 

USMC Photo A140897 
Major General Marion E. Carl led VMF-223 in 
World War II against the Japanese and is credited 
with downing IS 1/2 enemy airplanes . 

USMC Photo A707812 
Left to right: Major John L. Smith, Lieutenant 
Colonel Richard C. Mangrum, and Captain Marion 
E. Carl, three giants of Marine aviation. 

about 50 aircraft, mostly F4Us and SNJs. Aside from 
a few minor ground accidents, only one aircraft loss 
occurred during this period. 

On 19 July, the Bulldogs traveled by train to the 
Naval Air Station (NAS), Alameda, California, and 
boarded the seaplane tender USS Wright (AV 1) on 
the evening of 20 July. Seven days later, the 
squadron arrived at MCAS, Ewa, headquarters of the 
4th Marine Base Defense Aircraft Wing (4th 
MBDAW). During operations from Ewa, Second 
Lieutenant Phillip R. Aikins was killed when his F4U 
crashed into a mountain peak about eight miles 
northeast of the air station. 

The training and combat air patrols over Hawaii 
came to an end on 1 August 1943, and the squadron 
was underway to Midway Island. The squadron's 
aircraft with some enlisted men and pilots made the 
trip by ship while 36 officers and men packed the 
remainder of the squadron's equipment in transport 
aircraft for the flight to Midway. On 5 August, the 
entire unit was on Midway as a part of MAG-22 
where it was immediately divided into two sections. 
One section, under Major Carl, operated from Sand 
Island while the executive officer. Major Robert P. 
Keller, took charge of the second section operating 
from Eastern Island. 

The Bulldogs completed their training on Midway 
on 18 October 1943. During its short stay, the unit 


USMC Photo 306513 

The Chance Vought-Sikorsky F4U-1 which became the standard fighter for Marines during World War 11 and 
continued in use during the Korean War, 

had lost four F4Us and one pilot. Three of the ac- 
cidents were the result of engine failures encountered 
while over water. Between 18 and 21 October, the 
entire squadron was airlifted back to Oahu where it 
was reassigned to MAG-23. Immediately, the 
squadron began assembling its equipment for another 
transfer. On 30 October, the entire unit sailed from 
Hawaii on board the escort carrier USS Breton (CVE 
23). On the 10th day at sea, 14 Corsairs were 
catapulted from the Breton with Espiritu Santo, New 
Hebrides as the destination. On 11 November, the 
aircraft took off for the Marine Corps Air Base, 
Quoin Hill, Efate, New Hebrides. Meanwhile, the 
remainder of the squadron had shifted from the 
Breton to the auxilary transport USS Tyton (APH 1) 
and was en route to Quoin Hill. On 18 November, 
VMF-223 joined MAG-12, 2d MAW at Quoin Hill. 
After routine training was completed on 28 
November, the squadron was airlifted to Barokoma 
Field, Vella Lavella Island. VMF-223 was in combat 
once again. 

The first major aerial contact with the enemy 
occurred on 23 December 1943. A 48-plane fighter 
sweep over Rabaul located about 15 enemy fighters 
off the coast of New Ireland. The Bulldogs scored 
four kills and three probables. Throughout the 
remainder of the month, Japanese opposition con- 

tinued in the skies over Rabaul, but by 4 January 
1944, enemy resistance had dwindled considerably 
and VMF-223 secured flight operations. The final 
score for this campaign was 14 Japanese fighters 
destroyed, 10 probables , and four damaged. Only one 
VMF-223 pilot, First Lieutenant Bernard E. Sahl, 
became a casualty when he failed to return from a 
flight on Christmas Day 1943. 

On 4 January 1944, the squadron began 
preparations for a move to Bougainville in the 
Northern Solomons. The ground echelon embarked 
on board the minesweeper USS Chandler (DMS 9) 
and sailed on 19 January arriving at Torokina, 
Bougainville on the 25th. The aircraft remained at 
Barokoma Field while the flight personnel flew to 
Sidney, Australia, for a short rest period. 

The ground echelon prepared for the arrival of the 
squadron aircraft and helped to service the VMF-215 
Corsairs at Piva "Y" Airfield on Bougainville. On 
20 January, the squadron was reassigned from 
MAG-12, 2d MAW to MAG-24, 1st MAW. The 
flight echelon returned from Australia and on 17 
February rejoined the rest of the squadron at Piva 
"Y" strip on Bougainville. The squadron now, 
however, had a new commanding officer. On 4 
February, Major Carl was reassigned to Head- 
quarters Squadron, MAG-12 and Major Robert P. 


Keller* assumed command of the Bulldogs. Combat 
operations began immediately as the Bulldogs 
harassed the enemy ground units with strafing at- 
tacks destroying numerous trucks and barges on 
Bougainville . 

On 25 February 1944, Major Harlan E. Stewart 
was killed during a strafing mission. While diving on 
a target, Major Stewart's aircraft was hit by an- 
tiaircraft fire and crashed just offshore about three 
miles from Piva " Y" strip . 

Shortly before dawn on 8 March, the enemy hit 
the Piva '*Y" strip with a heavy artillery barrage 
which destroyed the ready room, two vehicles, one 
F4U, and damaged two other Corsairs. The shelling 
killed Private First Qass John W. Carter and caused 
Major Keller to be hospitalized with a shrapnel 
wound in the hip. 

Enemy shellings became so intense that on 13 
March , all 20 aircraft assigned to the squadron were 
flown to Green Island for dispersal. Two days later, 
the ground echelon embarked on board an LST and 
sailed for Green Island. For its action at Piva airstrip, 
the squadron received a letter of commendation from 
Major General Ralph J. Mitchell, Commander, 
Aircraft, Solomon Islands, for devotion to duty and 
tireless effort in maintaining operations from the 
airstrip during hostile shellings. 

On 14 March 1944, the squadron was assigned to 
MAG-14, 1st MAW. Two weeks later, the flight 
personnel flew to Efate Island where those pilots with 
three combat tours departed for duty in the U.S. , and 
the remaining pilots left for rest and recreation 
(R&R) in New Zealand and Australia. The ground 
personnel, meanwhile, remained on Green Island 
servicing the planes of VMF-114. The pilots rejoined 
the ground echelon on 7 May 1944, relieving VMF- 

For the next two months, the Bulldogs operated 
from Green Island flying escort, air-sea rescue cover, 
and strafing missions . The action over Rabaul again 
was costly to the squadron. Five pilots, First 
lieutenants Raymond P. Mumme, James W. Lizer, 
Charles F. Inman, and Second Lieutenants John C. 
Perkins, Jr., and Lawrence W. Pingree, were lost 
between 12 May and 16 June. ^ Flight operations on 
Green Island were secured on 18 June and the flight 
echelon left for Turtle Bay, Espiritu Santo Island, 
Eighteen pilots who had completed a third combat 

*Robert P. Keller rose to the rank of lieutenant general 
before retiring from the Marine Corps in 1974. 

USMC Photo 55429 

Marines bore sighting an F4U on Guadalcanal 
using their homemade apparatus constructed of 
coconut logs. 

tour rotated to the U.S. while the remaining 18 pilots 
departed for Sidney for R&R. The ground personnel, 
on board the SS President Tyler, departed Green 
Island on the 24th bound for Bougainville where they 
serviced planes for Marine Observation Squadron 
(VMO) 251. The squadron was also reassigned to 
MAG-24, 1st MAW. 

The pilots returned to Espiritu Santo on 6 July 
and, with a number of new pilots assigned, began 
training in gunnery and tactics. With 20 new F4Us, 
the flight echelon left Espiritu Santo and joined the 
remainder of the squadron on 1 August. While 
operating from the Piva "North" airstrip, VMF-223 
began flying missions over New Ireland, Rataval, 
Rabaul, Duke of York Islands, and Cape Lambert on 
New Britain. Warehouses, huts, and personnel were 
bombed and strafed as the squadron continued in the 
campaign of attrition against the Japanese on Gazelle 
Peninsula, New Britain, and on Bougainville. Using 
every conceivable technique of ordnance delivery the 
Bulldogs bombed and strafed enemy bivouac areas, 
supply dumps, villages, and coastal installations 
throughout the Northern Solomons and Bismarck 
Islands. On 8 December 1944, combat operations 
were secured and preparations were made for yet 
another move. Although the action of this tour was 
not as intense as the Bulldogs had encountered 
previously, another pilot. Second Lieutenant Hadley 
V. Baker, was killed when his plane was hit by 
antiaircraft fire. 

After more than three weeks of preparation, the 
transfer began. The flight echelon took off on 8 
January for Samar in the Philippines Islands and after 
brief stops at Emirau, Hollandia, Owi, and Peleliu, 

276-044 - 79 -3 

the planes landed at Guiuan Strip, Samar. The 
remainder of the squadron made the trip by surface 
vessel arriving on 12 January 1945. 

Living and operating conditions at Guiuan airstrip 
were poor even by Western Pacific standards. The 
runway was still being constructed and there was 
inadequate space provided for the proper dispersal of 
aircraft. Five planes were damaged while taking off 
and landing, due partly to the Limited runway 
available and partly to pilot error. In spite of the 
miserable operating conditions, VMF-223 flew 
combat sweeps over Southern Luzon, Lingayan, 
Cebu, Mindanao, Negros, and other islands in the 

Second Lieutenant Kenneth G. Pomasl was 
reported missing in action on 23 January 1945. On 
the afternoon of the 29th, he returned to the base by 
way of Bay bay, Burauen, and Tacloban. The 
following is an account of his adventure: 

On the day he became lost from his flight of four 
aircraft, he flew around until he was low on gas. Letting 
down through the overcast, he found himself over land, 
which later turned out to be Mactan Island off Cebu. He 
made a power landing in the water, one-half mile from 
land, and got out of the plane. After inflating his rubber 
boat, he climbed in and secured his backpack and shoes, 
which he had removed in the water, to the raft. Almost 
immediately, three native canoes came out to him, and 
Lieutenant Pomasl was transferred to one of the canoes 
while his rubber raft was placed on another. The Japs 
from Mactan Island started shooting at the party and 
everyone went into the water. Lieutenant Pomasl did not 
see his native friends after this. His raft which had fallen 
into the water, drifted into shore, and soon a Japanese 
soldier paddled out in it. When he came within two 
hundred feet of Pomasl he began to aim a rifle, but the 
pilot fired first with his .45. After exchanging several 
more shots the Jap paddled back to shore and was seen no 

Lieutenant Pomasl waited until after dark before 
swimming into shore. When he landed on the shore, he 
had been in the water for more than seven hours. He went 
into the jungle which came down almost to the water's 
edge, and finding a place to his liking remained there all 
that night and the next day and the following night. He 
had a canteen full of water but no food, and he was 
plagued with mosquitoes. At noon of the second day after 
his landing, the 25th of January, he set out walking 
northward for awhile, but the coral hurt his feet (he had 
lost his shoes with the raft) and he reversed his direction, 
moving south and west. After about three-fourths of a 
mile, he broke into a clearing around which huts were 
built. Soon after he was discovered by the Filipinos who 
took him into the jungle again, and built a couch on 
which he could lie. They brought him food (eggs, boiled 
chicken,) and he was able to make himself understood by 
one of the natives who spoke a little English. That night 
he was transferred to a smaller island, Santa Rosa, where 

he was hospitably treated. A native nurse washed his 
flying suit and dressed the coral cuts on his feet. On the 
27th he was taken to Tingu Island, and early that day the 
Filipinos took him in a sailboat to Baybay, then to where 
he was able to contact American Army forces. He went 
from there to Burauen where he spent the night and the 
following day he returned.' 
Operations from Guiuan strip were characterized 
by many missions during which the pilots had great 
difficulty finding suitable targets. The few good 
targets remaining were protected from air attacks 
because they were located among the civilian 
communities. The Corsairs of VMF-223 continued 
hitting the enemy lines of communications, his 
harbors, and escape routes. They kept his airfields 
useless by repeated attacks and steadily diminished 
his supply of motor transport equipment. From 
February through April 1945, the squadron flew 
missions in support of the Army's Operation 
VICTOR. This operation was a series of hard-fought 
battles aimed at driving the well-fortified Japanese 
out of the Philippines. During this period, four more 
Bulldogs were killed in action: First Lieutenant 
Glenn J. Amo, and Second Lieutenants Milton H. 
Thompson, Roy C. Pratt, and Robert Huxham. 

Preparations for another move started in May 
1945. The advance echelon embarked on board an 
LST and sailed for the squadron's new home in 
Okinawa where it joined MAG-14, 2d MAW. 
Meanwhile , the remaining pilots flew familiarization 
hops in the new F4U-4s which the squadron had 
received during May. The new Corsair had changed 
little in appearance, but it did have a larger engine 
giving the plane a maximum speed of 446 miles per 
hour, or 41 miles per hour faster than the F4U-1. 
The advance echelon reached the island of Okinawa 
on the morning of 29 May and began unloading 
equipment. On 11 June, 30 VMF-223 planes landed 
at Kadena Airfield, Okinawa, and operations began 
two days later . 

On 21 June, 10 days after Second Lieutenant Alvin 
H. Perry was killed when his aircraft was hit by 
ground fire, the squadron was able to record its first 
enemy aircraft shot down since February 1944. The 
following narrative describes that action: 

Four F4Us flown by First Lieutenant Martin T. 
Tiernan, John C. Groot, Arthur C. Evans, and Second 
Lieutenant Roy A. McAUster, Jr., participated in a 
successful interception of enemy fighters while flying a 
barrier combat air patrol between Yokoate and Kikai 
Islands at 1830, 21 June 1945. After a routine and 
negative mission, the planes were vectored to reported 
enemy aircraft 10 miles northwest of Tokuno Shima. 
Flying at an altitude of 10,000 feet, on a general heading 


USMC Photo 78262-A 

A flight of Marine Corsairs returning from a mission somewhere in the Pacific. VMF-223 flew the famed 
Corsair during WWII. 

of 180 degrees, Lieutenant Tiernan spotted a formation of 
fighter planes composed of three four-plane divisions 
heading approximately north at 8,000 feet. Thinking that 
they were Army P-47s, the four F4Us went down in a 
recognition run. The sun which was low in the west 
obscured the wing markings until the planes were within 
200 yards. At that time the formation was discovered to 
be an enemy flight of 12 Tojos.* The Japanese planes 
were flying with all 12 nearly abreast with two divisions in 
the center and a section on either wing. 

Lieutenant Tiernan and his wingman immediately 
attacked the right section. Tiernan closed to within 50 
yards at an indicated airspeed of 280 knots before shooting 
the enemy wingman down with one short burst which hit 
the cockpit. ... He was turning to get the section leader 
when he noticed tracers coming past his right wing, and 
he pulled up as Lieutenant Groot closed to 50 yards and 
shot the plane down with two short bursts . . . Both 
enemy planes went down in increasingly steeper dives, 
smoking, and crashed into the water. 

... at the same time Lieutenant's Evans and 
McAlister were attacking the section which was flying on 

*Toio— a single-engine Japanese fighter armed with four .50 
caliber guns with a few equipped with two wing or cowling 
mounted 40mm cannons. 

the left wing of the formation. Both pilots followed the 
tactics which Lieutenant Tiernan and Groot used, and 
each accounted for a plane. 

. . . None of the enemy planes showed any disposition 
to fight, and scattered at the initial contact, jettisoning 
what appeared to be bombs of approximately 250 pounds 
in size. 

The remaining eight planes were able to reach a large 
cloud bank laying east of Yokoate Island, at which time 
contact was broken off. Had he (Lieutenant Tiernan) 
instructed his flight to attack when he first sighted the 
enemy, he feels certain that at least four other planes 
might have been accounted for. In view of the regrettable 
losses due to over zealous pilots who have shot down 
friendly planes, it is considered that Lieutenant Tiernan 
showed excellent judgment. When it became apparent 
that the enemy had managed to escape in the weather, the 
flight returned without incident .... 

In the initial interception by this squadron, using F4U- 
4s, the pilots expressed keen satisfaction with the new 
plane. . . . The F4U-4 proved it could outclimb, outdive, 
and outfly the Tojo, and since the enemy aircraft did not 
stay to find out, it is thought that the Tojo pilots shared 
this opinion.**' 

By the end of June 1945, operations on Kadena 
had ceased and VMF-223 was ordered to Awase 


Airfield on the eastern coast of Okinawa. Early July 
saw the Bulldogs conducting strikes against 
Sakishima Gunto and fighter sweeps over Kyushu, 
the southernmost island of Japan. Now for the first 
time, squadron pilots saw the homeland of Japan and 
China when they escorted units of the U.S. fleet 
north along the Chinese coast. Virtually no enemy 
planes rose to challenge U.S. supremacy of the air. 

Although the Japanese pilots were unable to knock 
down VMF-223 aircraft, three pilots were lost during 
July. First Lieutenant William V. Everett failed to 
return from a fighter sweep over Kyushu on 16 July. 
On the 23d, Second Lieutenant Otto A. Mittelstadt 
crashed after apparently becoming disoriented when 
his division flew into a cloud bank. The following 
day. Second Lieutenant Ward B. Kindlesparger, Jr., 
was killed as the result of a mid -air collision with 
First Lieutenant Guy M. Oliver. Both planes ex- 
ploded upon impact, and although Lieutenant Oliver 
managed to bail out safely, no trace of Lieutenant 
Kindlesparger was found. 

On 15 August 1945, official word was received 
that the war was over. The squadron, however, 
continued to fly combat air patrol in the event some 
of the more fanatical Japanese tried to make one last 
effort against the Americans. 

During a defensive patrol on 16 August, a division 
of Corsairs sighted what appeared to be a ''Wolf 
Pack" of Japanese submarines in formation. After 
the flight received permission to attack from the 
central fighter director on Okinawa, the planes dived 
on the submerged targets. Before any ordnance was 
expended, the ''submarines" began spouting water 
and the target was then recognized as a group of 
whales. The pilots pulled out and departed the area 
thankful they had not embarrassed themselves 
further by attacking the defenseless whales. 

The month of August had begun with the men of 
VMF-223 enthusiastically preparing for the invasion 
of the Japanese home islands. When peace became a 
reality, the Bulldogs expected to be called upon to 
serve as part of the occupational forces assigned 
throughout Japan. As time passed and no orders 
were received, the officers and men of VMF-223 
realized that their job was done. 

The Bulldogs continued to conduct combat air 
patrols supporting mines weeping operations north 
and west of Amami O Shima. The Marines remained 
on alert for some attempt by the enemy to strike 
against the arsenal developing on Okinawa. All 
observations, however, indicated an acceptance of 

the surrender and a recognition of the cessation of 
hostilities. The squadron gradually adopted a 
peacetime routine which included air shows to 
demonstrate U.S. air power, surveillance missions, 
and an active athletic program for the men . Training 
hops became the primary flight activity. Fighter 
tactics continued to be emphasized and extended 
navigational training flights were made over Japan . 

Constant construction and repair of squadron 
facilities was required as several typhoons hit 
Okinawa. One typhoon, with winds of 110 knots, 
remained in the area for an entire day. The camp area 
was totally destroyed and a majority of the aircraft 
received damage to the control surfaces. 

On the morning of 15 Etecember 1945, two pilots, 
Second Lieutenants Arthur J. Halenkamp and 
Stanley K Kazorski were killed in a mid -air collision 
four miles north of le Shima. Another accident 
occurred on 14 January 1946 during a familiarization 
hop. Second Lieutenant George Jackson, a new pilot 
in the squadron, accidentally went into an inverted 
spin and crashed near the village of Suga, Tiara. 
Lieutenant Jackson and a civilian woman on the 
ground were killed in the crash and three other 
civilians were injured. 

On 24 January 1946, after more than three years of 
involvement in the war, VMF-223 ceased fli>jht 
operations and began preparing for transfer to the 
United States. The squadron had earned two 
Presidental Unit Citations, one at Guadalcanal and 
the other at Okinawa. The first commanding officer. 
Captain John L. Smith, had won the Medal of Honor 
for his actions over Guadalcanal. Six pilots had 
become air aces winning two Navy Crosses, three 
Distinguished Flying Crosses, and six Air Medals. 
The Bulldogs were returning home as a proven 
combat unit . 

A Force in Readiness: 1946-1950 

On 3 February 1946, the flight echelon of VMF- 
223 boarded the escort carrier USS Cape Gloucester 
(CVE 109) and sailed for San Diego on 6 February. 
After a brief stop at Guam from 9 through 14 
February, the ship continued on to NAS, North 
Island, San Diego, arriving on 28 February. The rear 
echelon, meanwhile, had embarked on board the 
escort carrier USS Prince William (CVE 31) and 
began its journey home on 12 February. By 2 March, 
the squadron was located at the Marine Corps Air 
Depot (MCAD), Miramar, San Diego, and was 
reassigned to MAG-33, Marine Air West Coast. 


Before the unit became comfortable at Miramar, 
word was received to prepare for a move to MCAS, 
El Toro. On 11 March, the squadron was at El Toro 
and was able to resume its flying. 

Although the Bulldogs experienced postwar at- 
trition in personnel, they did receive some personnel 
from Marine Torpedo Bomber Squadron (VMTB) 
233, VMF-511, and Carrier Aircraft Service Detach- 
ment (CASD) 10 when these units were deactivated 
in March 1946. Fulfilling its primary mission of 
training personnel for carrier and land-based 
operations in the Pacific, VMF-223 conducted flight 
training which included familiarization, gunnery, 
night flying, section and division tactics, navigation, 
instruments, and field carrier landing practice. 

Flight operations were plagued by numerous 
aircraft accidents. Although some of the accidents 
were caused by material failure, most were the result 
of pilot error. On 20 June 1946, a Corsair crashed 
while landing at El Toro. It appeared as though the 
pilot, after touching down, reached for the flap lever 
and by niistake, pulled the wheels lever, retracting 
the landing gear. 

August 1946 was an exceptionally bad month for 
the squadron. Three planes were either destroyed or 
seriously damaged while landing or taking off. On 23 
August, an aircraft was destroyed when the pilot 
tried to abort a takeoff and skidded off the runway. 
On the 26th, an aircraft was taxied into a truck that 
was being used in construction work on the runway. 
The next day, a plane swerved off the runway 
because of faulty brakes. The Corsair then ran into a 
ditch, sheared off both wheels, and flipped over. 

During the autumn of 1946, the squadron con- 
tinued to train. Five pilots qualified for carrier 
landing on board the USS Shangn-La (CV 38) in 
September. On lO October, a pilot * *spun in ' ' during 
field carrier landing practice when he lost control in 
the turbulent air which is often encountered when 
there is not enough interval between landing aircraft. 
Five days later, 13 pilots went on board the USS 
Rendova (CVE 114) for carrier qualifications. During 
the short cruise, one aircraft crashed into the catwalk 
when the pilot failed to level his wings upon touch- 

As another form of training, the Bulldogs, along 
with planes from the Army and the Navy, par- 
ticipated in the first large-scale postwar amphibious 
exercise. From 21 through 27 November, the 
squadron flew support missions for the Army's 2d 
Infantry Division at San Clemente Island and on the 

USMC Photo A707811 
Major Michael R. Yunck led the squadron from 10 
June 1 947 to 6 March 1 948. 

mainland near Oceanside, California. On 12 January 
1947, VMF-223 participated in its third air show 
since arriving at El Toro. This show, a function of 
National Preparedness Week, gave the Bulldogs a 
chance to show their skills in gunnery, glide bomb- 
ing, and rocket firing. 

The squadron was next involved in flying 
simulated air support for a mock amphibious landing 
on 13 March. This exercise was followed on 22 
through 24 March by Operation CONFUSION. 
During this operation, VMF-223 remained in an 
alert status and was scrambled to intercept and 
* 'attack" convoys of a U.S. task force operating off 
the coast of southern California. 

On 9 June 1947, VMF-223 was converted into a 
transitional training unit with the mission of training 
transport and bomber pilots in the Corsair. On 10 
June, Major Michael R. Yunck took command.* The 
syllabus was divided into two phases: the first phase 
was conducted in the SNJ trainer and the second 
phase in the Corsair. Unfortunately, the squadron 
continued to average an accident per month as new 
pilots attempted to master the fighter aircraft. 

During the months that followed, the Bulldogs 
were involved in intensive training. By September 
1947, 74 pilots had completed training and were 

* Yunck, who retired in 1967 as a colonel, was a World War 
II ace and the winner of two silver stars. In 1963 he was selected 
as the second recipient of the Alfred A, Cunningham trophy as 
the Marine aviator of the year. Colonel Yunck was critically 
wounded in Vietnam while flying as a co-pilot in a helicopter, 
and as a result of these wounds his right leg was amputated. 


transferred to tactical squadrons. On 3 October, 
VMF-223 ceased to function as a fighter transition 
unit and to the joy of all squadron members, the 
Bulldogs once again resumed operations as a VMF. 

The change in mission assignment did not, un- 
fortunately, stop the pilots from having accidents. 
On a flight from Litchfield Park, Arizona to El Paso, 
Texas on 19 December, eight Corsairs strayed from 
the intended course and ran low on fuel. While 
approaching Carlsbad, New Mexico, one of the pilots 
reported a low fuel warning light and headed into the 
nearest field, Carlsbad municipal airport. As the pilot 
circled to land, the engine began to sputter. 
Assuming that he was out of fuel, the pilot attempted 
to make a downwind emergency landing on the 
4,000-foot strip. During the approach he found 
himself high and fast, a logical situation to expect 
when attempting to land downwind. When the 
Corsair finally touched down, there was only 1,500 
feet of runway remaining. The pilot immediately 
applied both brakes but the aircraft continued off the 
runway. After hitting a pole that sheared off the left 
wing and crushing a fence, the F4U came to rest. 

Throughout January and February 1948, the 
squadron flew simulated close air support missions 
for the 1st Marine Division units undergoing am- 
phibious training in the Aliso Canyon area. For 33 
days the Bulldogs operated under simulated combat 
conditions from the newly designated Marine Corps 
Auxiliary Airfield, Camp Pendleton. 

An operational readiness inspection was conducted 
by the 1st MAW* on 8 March. The inspection 
consisted of three parts: The first part required the 
squadron to plan and conduct a mass attack on a 
designated target; next, the pilots demonstrated their 
skills in flying close air support; and the final phase 
included gunnery, navigation, bombing, rocket 
firing, instrument flying, and field carrier landings. 
When the scores were announced at the conclusion 
of the inspection, VMF-223 received the hiighest 
score of aU MAG-33 squadrons. 

VMF-223 was detached from MAG-33 on 7 June 
1948 and reassigned to MAG-14, 2d MAW, located 
at MCAS, Cherry Point, North Carolina. The flight 
echelon, consisting of three flights of eight F4Us 
landed at Cherry Point on 10 June without a mishap. 
On 1 August, Marine * 'Fighting' ' Squadron 223 was 
redesignated Marine ** Fighter" Squadron 223 and 
was reassigned to MAG-11 . 

*On 1 October 1947, Marine Air West Coast was 
redesignated the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing. 

The squadron immediately undertook a rigorous 
schedule of field carrier landing practice in 
preparation for the upcoming carrier qualifications. 
On 23 August, 10 pilots flew to Norfolk, Virginia 
where they joined other fleet pilots on board the 
escort carrier USS Palau (CVE 122) for a three-day 
qualification cruise. The training was completed 
without an accident, but one veteran pilot. Captain 
William E. Cannon, died of disease. On the 23d, 
Captain Cannon reported to the dispensary with 
symptoms of polio, and when the pilots returned 
from carrier qualifications, they learned their friend 
had died of respiratory poliomyelitis. 

Extensive field carrier landing practice and tactical 
air exercises were the primary operational com- 
mitments during the remainder of the summer. 
Flight training was temporarily interrupted on 28 
August when the squadron was directed to evacuate 
all aircraft because of an approaching hurricane. 
Twenty planes were immediately launched for 
Cleveland, Ohio, where they remained for five days. 

After a month of training at Cherry Point, the 
squadron made another deployment, this time to 
Barin Field, Alabama, located near Pensacola, 
Florida. Arriving on 17 October 1948, the pilots 
immediately began field carrier landing practice. 
Before the first day of thds deployment was over, the 
squadron had an accident. First Lieutenant Dwayne 
E. Adams crashed during takeoff and was killed. 

After returning to Cherry Point, the squadron 
hardly had time to celebrate the Marine Corps birth- 
day on 10 November before it was again preparing for 
another short cruise. On 15 November a detachment 
of aircraft departed for Norfolk and boarded the 
carrier USS Saipan (CVL 48). Before the flight 
returned on 18 November, each pilot had qualified 
with at least 10 carrier landings. During thds training 
period, the commanding officer. Major Richard W. 
Wyczawski, made the 17,000th landing on board the 
Saipan . 

During November and December, the squadron 
began its fixed gunnery training syllabus. By the 
holidays, most of the pilots had completed this phase 
of training and were given leave. One pilot who did 
not take leave, Captain John Callahan, the squadron 
flight officer, was killed on the morning of 24 
December 1948, when his F4U crashed into Little 
Lake about seven miles west of Cherry Point. 

After the turn of the year, the members of VMF- 
223 began preparing for their next deployment. On 
15 February 1949, 24 aircraft departed for the Naval 


Air Station, Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico. The 
Bulldogs, for the next three and a half weeks, par- 
ticipated in maneuvers with U.S. naval units in the 
Caribbean. After completing this training, the unit 
departed for home arriving at Cherry Point on 14 

Routine training kept the Bulldogs busy until 14 
July when the unit deployed to MCAS, Edenton, 
North Carolina. While deployed the pilots became 
proficient in carrier flight procedures by conducting 
simulated shipboard operations from Edenton and 
Fenterss Field, a deactivated Navy field near Oceana, 
Virginia. Returning to Cherry Point on 30 July, the 
squadron immediately began preparation for another 
short cruise. On 7 August, the squadron boarded the 
carrier USS Franklin D, Roosevelt (CVB 42) at 
Norfolk for nearly two weeks of training at sea. 

For the men of VMF-223, arriving back at Cherry 
Point meant performing the necessary maintenance 
on the planes, packing the squadron equipment, and 
saying goodby to their families. The unit was about 
to leave for an extended cruise to the Mediterranean. 
On 31 August 1949, the squadron journeyed to 
NAS, Quonset Point, Rhode Island where it boarded 
the carrier USS Leyte (CV 32). The Leyte sailed for 
the British colony of Gibraltar on 6 September and 
after extensive maneuvering to avoid a hurricane 
docked on 15 September. One week later the ship 
sailed again, this time for Malta where the pilots flew 
air support for a 2 1st Marines Battalion Landing 
Team (BLT) exercise. During one phase of the 
training, squadron aircraft were making simulated 
attacks on a carrier when an external fuel tank broke 
loose from one of the Corsairs and narrowly missed 
the ship. As a result, future "attacks" on ships of 
the Sixth Fleet were limited to 15 degree dives and 
250 knots. 

For the five and a half months the squadron was 
embarked on board the Leyte, VMF-223 showed its 
presence throughout the Mediterranean. The 
following is a chronological listing of the squadron's 
movement while deployed with the Sixth Fleet: 

September 1949 Malta, Sardinia, France 

October 1949 Malta, Greece, Cyprus 

November 1949 Greece, Italy, Sicily 

December 1949 Sicily, Italy 

January 1950 North Africa, Gibraltar 

The Bulldogs departed Gibraltar on 17 January 
1950, after having conducted extensive training and 
support missions throughout the Mediterranean. 
After unloading at Norfolk, the squadron proceeded 
to Cherry Point arriving on 29 January 1950. Finally 

home, the Bulldogs of VMF-223 were confident that 
they were a force in readiness capable of carrying out 
their mission anywhere in the world. 

Entering the Jet Age 

Shortly after returning from duty in the 
Mediterranean, VMF-223 underwent an almost total 
changeover in personnel. Since practically all the 
unit's experienced pilots had been transferred, the 
Bulldogs faced a major training program in order to 
regain their proficiency as a combat ready force . The 
squadron concentrated on basic air work, air-to-air 
gunnery, and rocket firing. By the end of spring 
1950, the pilots of VMF-223 had achieved good 
proficiency, and tactics and dive bombing were being 
emphasized in training. 

In early May 1950, the squadron learned that it 
would receive the McDonnell F2H Banshee to 
replace the F4U-4s. Operations were then centered 
on preparing and training for the new aircraft. On 16 
May 1950, Major Thomas G. Bronleewe took 
command of the squadron.* Flight operations were 
interrupted on 25 June 1950 when the unit was put 
on alert in response to North Korea's surprise in- 
vasion of South Korea. All aircraft were scrambled 
for combat air patrols on 25 and 26 June, but the alert 
was cancelled on the 27th and the unit resumed its 
normal training schedule. 

The squadron was informed on 5 July 1950, that it 
would immediately begin receiving the new 
Grumman F9F Panther aircraft instead of the F2Hs. 
By 23 July the Bulldogs possessed 12 F9F-2 jet 
aircraft. The Panther was a single-seated fighter and 
could be either carrier or land based. Powered by a 
Pratt and Whitney engine with 5,750 pounds of 
thrust, the aircraft's primary mission was the 
destruction of opposing aircraft . The F9F could carry 
four fuselage-mounted 20mm guns, up to six 500- 
pound bombs, and two six-shot rocket packs. The 
total ordnance capacity was 3,465 pounds. Because 
of the ejection seat in the jet, all pilots had to go to 
the Naval Air Material Center at Philadelphia for 
training in the ejection seat. 

On 1 September 1950, VMF-223 was tranferred 
fi-om MAG- 11 to MAG-14 at Cherry Point. The 
operating strength of the squadron was increased as 
numerous reservists were assigned for training. 

* Bronleewe went on to a distinguished career and com- 
manded MAG-32 when it deployed for the Cuban crisis in 


USMC Photo 530003 

A VMF-223 Grumman F9F-4 Panther jet set for takeoff at Cherry Point, North Carolina. The Panther was a 
land- and carrier-based, low-wing monoplane with the primary mission of destroying enemy aircraft. 

Major John M. Winkler, USAF, joined the unit on 2 
October to become the first Air Force representative 
to be assigned to VMF-223 under the pilot exchange 

The squadron was placed on alert on 19 November 
and again on 6 December. With each alert, the 
Bulldogs made final preparations in expectation of 
movement orders to Korea. With no change in the 
squadron's status, the Bulldogs resumed normal 
training and prepared for possible combat. The 
syllabus for the new jets consisted of familiarization 
flights, seaion and division tactics, instruments, 
rocket firing, gunnery, night radar -controlled 
bombing, and occasional ground -controlled intercept 
flights with Marine Air Control Group 1 . 

The next phase of training for the pilots was carrier 
qualifications, and from 11 to 23 February 1951, 18 
aircraft were deployed to NAS, Cecil Field, 
Jacksonville, Florida, for field carrier landing 
practice. The Bulldogs returned to Jacksonville on 7 
May for the final period of field carrier landing 
practice before actual qualifications at sea. During 
this training, the unit had its first accident in the new 
jets. A squadron F9F had just become airborne when 
it was struck in the rear by a Navy F2H maneuvering 
over the field for a landing. The Panther pilot 
brought his jet in for a crash landing and suffered a 
back injury when the disabled aircraft hit a stump 
after skidding off the runway. 

On 19 June the squadron went on board the USS 

Franklin D. Roosevelt for carrier qualifications. In 
addition to the qualifications, the Bulldogs flew 
simulated combat missions in support of the Ninth 
Secretary of Defense Joint Civilian Orientation 
Cruise on 2 July. For its outstanding performance of 
duty while deployed with the Roosevelt, the Com- 
manding General, Fleet Marine Force, Alt antic, 
lieutenant General Leroy P. Hunt, presented the 
squadron with a Letter of Appreciation. On 4 July, 
VMF-223 left the ship at Norfolk and returned to 
Cherry Point. 

After one month on dry land, it was back to sea for 
the Bulldogs. This time it was on the carrier USS 
Tarawa (CV 40) which the squadron boarded on 3 
August while it was moored at NAS, Quonset Point. 
The squadron was soon involved in Air Defense 
Exercise FOX during which the unit defended the 
task force against land-based aggressor aircraft. Upon 
returning to Cherry Point on 12 August, VMF-223 
immediately departed for the Army's Camp Pen- 
dleton in Virginia in support of Operation CAMID 
IV, a combined cadet /midshipman exercise. The 
hard work and the constant deployment of VMF-223 
was rewarded in August when the unit was given the 
Commanding General, 2d MAW's Semi -Annual 
Efficiency Trophy for the period of January through 
June 1951. 

The Bulldogs did not rest long before they were off 
again on another deployment to NAS, Norfolk and 
participation in Operation LANT FLEX 52. On 14 


September, the entire complement of 24 F9Fs was 
hoisted on board the USS Saipan bound for Roosevelt 
Roads. By 1 October, VMF-223 was flying extensive 
close air support missions for 2d Marine Division 
units involved in the fleet exercise. On 30 October 
1951, the squadron boarded the USS Midway (CVB 
42) and sailed for North Carolina. While the unit was 
deployed on board the Midway, the Bulldogs con- 
ducted fighter sweeps and air combat patrol missions 
until the task force arrived off Camp Lejeune. The 
pilots then returned to flying close air support as the 
2d Division units stormed ashore on Onslow Beach. 
The training missions were completed on 17 
November and VMF-223 returned home to Cherry 

With the squadron back in garrison, mechanics 
worked many hours performing maintenance on the 
aircraft. Even with this extra effort by the main- 
tenance department, aircraft availability decreased 
and the tempo of operations was reduced until March 
1952 when the unit received a complement of F9F-4s 
to replace the older jets . On 19 March the Bulldogs 
flew the new jets to Roosevelt Roads in support of 2d 
Marine Division units involved in Operation 
ANGLEX 52. The exercise provided excellent 
training for the pilots and flight operations were 
completely successful . 

An accident occurred in mid-April which 
restricted the use of the F9F-4s. During a routine 
gunnery hop, a pilot felt heavy vibrations which 
seemed to be coming from the engine of his jet . The 
pilot returned to the field and when he was on final 
approach, the engine quit. The plane crashed ap- 
proximately 1,000 feet short of the runway. The pilot 
was not injured, but the jet was destroyed. A sub- 
sequent investigation revealed that four other 
squadron aircraft had similar defects in the engines. 
Permission was obtained to return the remaining 
aircraft to Cherry Point on 19 April, and nine days 
later all F9F-4s were grounded until a modification 
was made on the engines. 

Throughout this period, pilots scheduled for 
assignment to Korea received first priority for 
training, including field carrier landing practice at 
Edenton. In addition to the routine training, the 
squadron provided dose air support on 13 June for 
Operation TRAEX I-PHASE II at Camp Lejeune 
and participated in an air show for the Commandant 
of the Marine Corps, General Lemuel C. Shepherd, 
Jr. , at Camp Lejeune on 1 July. 

August 1952 found the unit involved in supporting 

amphibious training at Onslow Beach. This exercise. 
Operation PHIBEX 1-53, was the first simulated 
atomic threat training for the squadron. By late 
September VMF-223 was again bound for Roosevelt 
Roads, this time with 21 planes in support of 
Operation TRAEX II-PHASE I. After a successful 
deployment, the detachment returned to Cherry 
Point on 28 October. The final exercise of the year 
for the Bulldogs was on 10 November 1952. During 
Operation TRAEX II-PHASE H, held at Onslow 
Beach, the squadron participated in its first joint 
amphibious /helicopter assault. For the Bulldogs the 
year ended on a sad note; Captain Douglas F. 
Hollingsworth and Second Lieutenant Harold G. 
Brown were killed when their planes collided while 
they were on a cross-country flight. 

After the turn of the new year, the squadron began 
preparing for a carrier deployment to the Caribbean. 
For two and a half weeks in January, VMF-223 was 
at NAS, Oceana, Virginia for field carrier landing 
practice. On 16 February 1953, 26 squadron Pan- 
thers departed for Naval Auxilary Air Station, 
Mayport, Florida, where the jets were hoisted on 
board the attack carrier USS Bennington (CVA 20). 
The ground echelon was already on board having 
joined the ship at Norfolk. The carrier left Florida on 
the 24th and headed for Cuba. The squadron cruised 
the Caribbean as part of the force in readiness until it 
returned to Cherry Point on 10 May. The Panthers 
hardly had time to cool before the squadron boarded 
the attack carrier USS Antietam (CVA 36) at 
Norfolk for a short deployment. This time the unit 
participated in a demonstration for observers from 
the Armed Forces Staff College and the Industrial 
College of the Armed Forces. 

New landing techniques using the canted deck 
carrier were tested and demonstrations were given of 
the effectiveness of accurate ordnance delivery in 
close air support. Returning to Cherry Point on 30 
May 1953, the squadron resumed training pilots 
bound for Korea . 

Marine Fighter Squadron 22 3 's role as a training 
squadron ended on 7 August 1953 when the unit 
boarded naval shipping at Morehead City, North 
Carolina and sailed for Japan. On 11 September the 
squadron arrived at Yokosuka, Japan and then 
proceeded to NAS, Atsugi where it was assigned to 
MAG-11, 1st MAW. The Bulldogs conducted 
normal training operations, including close air 
support for Marine ground units at Camp Fuji, until 
May 1954. 


USMC Photo A346121 

Boston Red Sox baseball star Ted Williams receives a check out on a new instrument panel with other Marine 
Corps fighter pilots. Captain Williams was called to active duty for the Korean War. 

Later that month a small detachment of F9Fs was 
undergoing aerial gunnery training at Nigato Air 
Force Base when an overly zealous pilot continued 
his run on a towed target until it was too late to avoid 
a collision. Fortunately, there was no injury to the 
pilot and only minor damage to the jet as the incident 
was followed by a normal landing. Another accident 
occurred on 16 June when the right landing gear on 
one of the Panthers collapsed on landing roll -out. 
The aircraft left the runway and collided with a 
number of bomb trailers. The accident resulted in 
substantial damage to the plane and destroyed 33 
bomb trailers. Luckily, the pilot escaped serious 

During the squadron's tour of duty in Japan, two 
famous baseball players were members of the outfit. 
Ted Williams, the well-known left fielder of the 
Boston Red Sox, was a Bulldog pilot and Jerry 
&)leman, a player with the New York Yankees, also 
served with VMF-223. 

The squadron continued flight operations until it 
left Japan on 22 September 1954. At that time, 
VMF-223 was reassigned to MAG-15, Air FMFPac 
at MCAS, El Toro, California. On 1 E)ecember 1954, 
the designation of the Bulldogs was changed from 
Marine Fighter Squadron to Marine Attack 
Squadron 223. The purpose of the change was to 
emphasize the role of attack aviation in the Marine 
Corps and the dual capability inherent in the aircraft . 

Operations continued at a steady pace throughout 
the spring of 1955 . On 4 March, the squadron's first 
' 'Plane Captain of the Month' ' award was presented. 
This was an incentive for the enlisted men and 
carried special significance and prestige because the 
recipient was chosen by the squadron pilots. 

From the end of June through September 1955, the 
Bulldogs conducted extensive training in close air 
support which included participation in Operations 
MARLEX and FIRE AX at Camp Pendleton. Over 
1,500 hours were flown during the three-month 
period which included three deployments to Marine 
Corps Air Facility (MCAF), Mojave. The following 
month, the training routine was interrupted as 12 
squadron pilots flew to North Carolina and back in 
four days. After returning to El Toro on 20 October, 
VMA-223 departed for Mojave and began con- 
ducting ordnance missions which included air-to-air 
gunnery, dive bombing, and strafing. When the 
squadron returned to El Toro, it had accumulated 
1 ,452 sorties and 2 ,072 flight hours during October. 

Rumors of a carrier deployment to the Far East 
sparked the Bulldog's training schedule in early 
1956. On 10 February, 16 pilots, including an at- 
tached Air Force exchange pilot, carrier qualified on 
board the USS Wasp (CV 18). The remainder of the 
squadron pilots completed qualifications later in the 
month . By March word was received that VM A-223 
would go on board the Wasp in April for sea duty. In 


USMC Photo A195035 
The North American FJ-4B Fury was used by 
VMA-223 as an attack aircraft. 

late March, some 22 officers and enlisted men of the 
unit journeyed to North Island, San EHego for a one 
day sea cruise. This was **ladies day" on board the 
aircraft carrier, and the Marines took their wives on a 
tour of the ship pointing out the duties that pilots and 
crews perform. The Bulldogs concluded preparations 
for embarkation on 22 April 1956 and boarded the 

During the 48,000-mile cruise which took the 
Bulldogs to Hawaii, Guam, the Philippines, Hong 
Kong, and Japan, the squadron operated as a unit of 
Carrier Air Group 15. While in Guam, VMA-223 
participated in Armed Force Day observances and in 
the Philippines the squadron took part in com- 
missioning ceremonies at the Navy's new air base at 
Cubi Point. The Bulldogs received an Air FMFPac 
Aviation Safety Award for the period of April 
through June 1956 in recognition of their accident- 
free operations . 

The six-month tour ended in late October 1956 
when the ship, with VMA-223 on board, arrived at 
NAS, Alameda. At 1344 on 31 October, a voice 
called El Toro tower, **This is Marine 6218 over 
Long Beach at 22,000 feet with a flight of 19 F9F 
aircraft." The call came from Major Victor E. 
Allen, commanding officer of the Bulldogs, who led 
the flight which brought the squadron home.^^ 

Flight operations were again underway by early 
November as the squadron resumed a rigorous 
training schedule. Combat readiness was the keynote 
of future operations, and the unit participated in 
many simulated combat exercises. Typical of VMA- 
223's activities was the unit's participation in an 
exercise on 27 June during which 24 F9Fs from 
MCAF, Mojave supported the 4th Marine Corps 
Provisional Atomic Exercise Brigade at the Nevada 
test site. 

In mid-August 1957, VMA-223 received the first 
delivery of the North American FJ-4B Fury jets. By 
autumn, the squadron was operating with two dif- 
ferent models of the Fury, The FJ-4 was used for 
training, while the FJ-4B, a newer version, was used 
as an attack aircraft to carry out the mission of the 
squadron. Powered by a Wright engine which 
generated 7,800 pounds of thrust, the Fury could fly 
above 40,000 feet and was capable of speeds in excess 
of 600 knots. With external fuel tanks, this single - 
seat, high-performance jet had an operational range 
of more than 1,300 miles. 

Upon acquisition of the new aircraft, the squadron 
began a new training syllabus for all its pilots. Flight 
time was divided between routine flights at El Toro 
and special weapons training at China Lake. Pilots of 
VMA-223 completed their first air-to-air refueling 
with the Furys in January 1958 and soon every pilot 
was qualified in this new phase of tactical jet 

For the next two years. Marine Attack Squadron 
223 remained at El Toro conducting training with 
occasional deployments to NAS, Fallon and other 
bases in the local area. Operations were focused on 
the attack mission of the squadron. Conventional air- 
to-ground deliveries and close air support using 
napalm, 2.75-inch rockets, and 20mm cannon played 
an important role in the training syllabus. 

From 17 to 29 January I960, the Bulldogs 
deployed to MCAS, Yuma, Arizona, a base which 
had recently been acquired from the Air Force. TTie 
squadron concentrated on training in special weapons 
delivery, conventional bombing, and air-to-ground 
rocketry. Close air support tactics were practiced 
with simulated strikes flown at 29 Palms and Camp 
Pendleton. On 3 June the unit was presented with its 
fourth AirFMFPac Quarterly Aviation Safety 
Award. After deployment to MCAS, Yuma and 
NAS Fallon during July and August I960, the 
squadron won its fifth such award. This award read 
in part: *'This achievement denotes a high degree of 
leadership and supervision, the employment of sound 
maintenance techniques, effective training programs, 
and excellent air discipline. "^"^ 

In mid- January 1961, VMA-223 began receiving 
light attack aircraft to replace the squadron's FJ-4 
fighter aircraft. The new aircraft assigned was the 
Douglas A4D-2 Skyhawk, later redesignated the A- 
4B. This single-seated lightweight attack bomber was 
much smaller but superior in performance to many 
operational jet fighters. Designed on a completely 

USMC Photo A149220 

An A'4D-2N {later known as the A-4C)Skyhawk belonging to VMA-223 parked at MCAS El Toro. 

functional basis with emphasis on simplification of 
structure and equipment and powered by a Wright J- 
65 turbojet engine which produced 7,700 pounds of 
thrust, the A-4B was superb for the attack role. Two 
20mm cannons were mounted in the wing roots and a 
number of attachment points under the wings and 
fuselage could accommodate rockets, torpedoes, 
missiles, and a wide variety of bombs." The Skyhawk 
could fly faster over greater distances than any other 
aircraft of its type. On 15 October 1955, the Skyhawk 
established a new world's speed record over the 500- 
kilometer closed circuit at Edwards AFB with a speed 
of 615.163 mph. Additionally, since the jet was small 
enough to fit standard aircraft carrier elevators 
without the need for folding wings, it was ideally 
suited for carrier operations. 

Training again became paramount as the pilots 
adjusted to their new jet aircraft. As the aviators 
became accustomed to the characteristics of the 
Skyhawk, the combat capabilities of the unit in- 
creased. The Bulldogs demonstrated their expertise 
in May 1962, when they participated in Operation 
ESAX, a close air support exercise held at 29 Palms. 
Operating from El Toro, the squadron flew as many 
as 55 sorties a day providing close air support for 
ground units and assisting in the training of tactical 
air control parties from Camp Pendleton. 

While the Bulldogs were involved in firing BuUpup 
missiles at ground targets at China Lake in June 
1962 , the squadron reached its 12,000th accident-free 

hour. The squadron then turned its attention to the 
art of in-flight refueHng. Working with the Lockheed 
KC-130 Hercules refuelers of VMGR-352, in-flight 
refueling missions continued until all pilots were 
qualified. The remainder of the summer was spent 
training at El Toro with an occasional deployment to 
MCAS, Yuma. On 2 November, VMA-223 
deployed on board the USS Hancock (CVA 19) for 
day and night carrier qualifications which ended on 
12 November . 

Marine Attack Squadron 223 set a Marine Corps 
record in December by earning 39 Navy **E's" for 
''Efficiency" in ordnance competition at MCAS, 
Yuma. The "E" certificates, awarded to individuals 
for accuracy in bombing and strafing, were won by all 
but two of the squadron pilots who took part in the 
competition . 

In preparation for a deployment to the Far East in 
March 1963, VMA-223 spent the first week of 
February at Yuma practicing conventional and 
nuclear weapons delivery and helicopter escort. 
Upon their return to El Toro, the Bulldogs made 
their final preparations prior to departing for Japan. 
The squadron left California on 30 March 1963 on 
Military Air Transport Service (MSTS) C-135 
aircraft and relieved El Toro-bound VMA-211. All 
squadrons planes and equipment were exchanged 
with VMA-211, and on 2 April the Bulldogs were 
assigned to MAG-12, 1st MAW. 

During its tour at MCAS, Iwakuni, the squadron 


made several deployments to Okinawa and the 
Philippines where the Bulldog pilots concentrated on 
rocket firing, bomb and napalm delivery, and nuclear 
loft bombing. For the one year the unit was in Japan, 
it was ready for combat assignment with the 1st 
MAW, but fortunately peace prevailed and 30 March 
1%4, VMA-223 exchanged places with El Toro- 
based VMA-121 . Again the squadrons swapped both 
aircraft and equipment. On 2 April 1964, the unit 
was reassigned to MAG-15, 3d IVLAW. Flight 
operations at El Toro were resumed on 14 April . 

In early June VMA-223 received the new A-4E 
Skyhawks. The A-4E, the newest in the AA series, 
had an increased payload and operational range and 
was powered by a Pratt and Whitney engine which 
produced 8,500 pounds of thrust. Deployments to 
NAS, Fallon and MCAS, Yuma enabled the 
Bulldogs to become proficient quickly in the new jet. 
The squadron also sent detachments to various 
aircraft carriers to keep the pilots current in carrier 
qualifications. In April 1965, six pilots from VMA- 
223 set an impressive record while on board the USS 
Yorktown (CVS 10). With only four Skyhawks, the 
pilots made 1 ,200 carrier landings without a mishap. 
The squadron safety record was now one of the most 
envied in the Marine Corps. During fiscal years 1957 
through 1964, VMA-223 earned 17 quarterly safety 

awards. This was truly an admirable record that was 
to be improved in the future . 


On 1 September 1965, VMA-223 departed NAS, 
North Island on board the helicopter carrier USS 
Valley Forge (LPH 8). The Bulldogs arrived at 
MCAS, Iwakuni, Japan on 15 September where they 
were assigned to MAG-13, 1st MAW. The squadron 
remained in Japan training until 15 Etecember. 
Then, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel 
Alexander Wilson, it joined MAG-12 at Chu Lai, 
Vietnam, relieving VMA-311 which returned to 
Japan after operating in Vietnam since 1 June 1965. 
Before the day had ended, VMA-223 had flown its 
first combat mission in Vietnam. 

Marine Attack Squadron 223 was involved initially 
with Operation HARVEST MOON which had 
begun on 8 December. HARVEST MOON was a 
coordinated USMC / Army of the Republic of 
Vietnam (ARVN) operation conducted midway 
between Da Nang and Chu Lai about 15 miles inland. 
For the Marines, this was the largest operation since 
their arrival in Vietnam. Major participating ground 
units were 2d Battalion, 7th Marines; 2d Battalion, 
1st Marines; 3d Battalion, 3d Marines; 1st Battalion, 


5th ARVN Regiment; 11th ARVN Ranger Bat- 
talion; and the 1st Battalion, 6th ARVN Regiment. 
Aviation units included fixed-wing aircraft from 
MAGs -11 and -12 and helicopters from MAGs -16' 
and -36. By the time HARVEST MOON ended on 
20 December, all the Bulldog pilots had flown with 
MAG-12 flights and considered themselves combat 

From 1800 on 24 December until 2400 on the 
25th, a 30-hour Christmas cease-fire was observed by 
American forces. Ehiring this period, air operations 
were limited to fixed-wing helicopter escort and 
helicopter logistical and administrative flights. 
Besides flying a few of these missions, the VMA-223 
personnel spent that time improving the defensive 
positions in the squadron area and adding a personal 
touch to the working and living spaces. 

The weather, for flying purposes, was generally 
good in January but during Operation MALLARD, 
January 10-13, it tested the pilots' instrument 
capabilities. With the assistance of ground control 
radar, TPQ-10, the pilots were able to deliver their 
bombs without visual contact with the target. The 
rainy weather also had its effea on the airfield 
facilities. By 16' January so much of the northern 

portion of the 8,000-foot runway was undermined 
that the Seabees had to begin extensive repairs. 
Meanwhile, air operations from Chu Lai continued. 
With the absence of half the runway, the pilots were 
forced to use jet-assisted takeoffs (JATO) and 
MOREST (arrested) landings. 

On 3 February, VMA-223 established a new 
record for the number of sorties flown by a MAG-12 
squadron in a 24-hour period. Launching its first 
sortie at 0837, the squadron flew 59 combat sorties 
and two test hops before the last sortie was recovered 
exactly 18 hours and 37 minutes later. The Bulldogs 
gained the spotlight again on the 19th when First 
Lieutenant Durwood K. Schnell returned from a 
mission to discover that his flight represented the 
20,000th combat flight hour for Chu Lai-based 

During the entire month of February, VMA-223 
and other MAG-12 units supported Operation 
DOUBLE EAGLE which was conducted in two 
phases. Phase I began 28 January in the area 20 miles 
southeast of Quang Ngai City and involved four 
USMC infantry battalions and supporting units. 
Although the fighting was sporadic. Marine air and 
ground units accounted for 312 enemy killed during 
five days of operations. 

During PHASE II the Marines swept the Quang 
Ngai area and then turned their attention to Tam Ky 
which was about 25 miles north of Chu Lai. Here the 
Marine air-ground team accounted for another 125 
enemy dead. 

On 3 March, eight USMC/ ARVN infantry 
battalions teamed up and conducted Operation 
UTAH. VMA-223 and other MAG-12 squadrons 
pounded the enemy for five days during which they 
delivered over 186 tons of ordnance while the friendly 
ground units advanced. The result of this air -ground 
effort was 586 members of the 21st North Viet- 
namese Army {NV A) Regiment killed. By the end of 
March, the squadron had accumulated a monthly 
flight time of more than 1 ,000 hours. 

Although runway facilities were limited while the 
Seabees were making the necessary repairs, and 
many flights were conducted in less than favorable 
weather conditions, the squadron continued the high 
tempo of operations without a single aircraft ac- 

When the commanding officer of VMA-223, 
lieutenant Colonel Robert B. Sinclair, returned from 
a mission on 29 April, he was met at the airfield by 


USMC Photo A370858 

A Skyhawk from VMA-223 being loaded with napalm at Chu Lai, Vietnam. VMA-223, as part ofMAG-U, 
worked out of Chu Lai in support of HI MAF operations in South Vietnam. 

Colonel Leslie E. Brown,* the commanding officer of 
MAG-12. The reason for the greeting was to 
congratulate the Bulldog leader for flying the 
squadron's 10,000th accident-free hour. Lieutenant 
Colonel Sinclair attributed the safety record to the 
professional attitude of the maintenance crews, 
ordnance teams, ground crews , and the pilots. 

Captain James R. Shea and First Lieutenant 
Harvey F. Crouch, Jr., were on alert status on 6 May 
when the word came to launch. Within minutes the 
pilots were airborne and on their way to the target, a 
friendly outpost 30 miles south of Chu Lai under 
attack by VC forces. Naval gunfire was lifted as the 
A-4s arrived over the target 15 minutes later. The 
heavily armed jets orbited the target until a forward 

* Colonel Brown was promoted to lieutenant general in 1975 
and became the Chief of Staff, Headquarters, U, S. Marine 
Corps and later, in 1977, Commanding General, FMFPac. 

air controller (FAC) in a light observation plane 
reported that he had had spotted about 40 Viet Cong 
in trench lines only 150 meters from the ARVN 
forces. The Sky hawks immediately began hitting the 
trenches with napalm. After expending all their 
bombs, the pilots began spraying the area with 20mm 
fire. By the time the two Bulldogs pulled off target, 
20 VC had been killed, 19 structures destroyed, and 
the enemy attack came to an abrupt end. 

On 14 May the JATO bottles were put away and 
replaced by a bi-directional catapult system. This 
catapult was powered by two jet engines, the same as 
those in the Phantom jet fighter, and could launch an 
aircraft either north or south. For all practical 
purposes, Chu Lai was an aircraft carrier, minus the 

During the afternoon of 3 June 196fe, a VMA-223 
plane was shot down and the pilot killed while at- 
tacking VC troops in the open approximately 75 
miles south of Chu Lai in II Corps. Captain Ralph W. 


Caspole, flying the lead position in a two-plane 
section, had expended his Mark-77 napalm bombs 
and was strafing with 20mm fire when his jet burst 
into fire as he was pulling out of a run. The A-4 
crashed near the target area and the wingman plus 
two other Skyhawks of VMA-223, which were 
diverted to provide rescue cover, orbited the area 
while helicopters searched for the downed pilot. The 
rescue operations were terminated after it was ap- 
parent the pilot had not survived the crash. 

On 16 June, a squadron section standing alert duty 
was once again scrambled. The flight, led by Captain 
Lynn A. Hale, launched at about 0350 to provide 
emergency close air support for a U. S. Marine 
reconnaissance patrol of 18 men. The patrol, which 
was on Hill 488 in Quang Tin Province, was being 
overrun by an estimated regiment of NVA. By the 
time Captain Hale and his wingman arrived on 
target, another flight that was on station providing 
support had just expended its ordnance and was 
departing. Captain Hale, aware of the four enemy .50 
caliber guns in the area, began the attack depending 
on the illumination from flares to locate the enemy. 
The Skyhawks made repeated runs flying low over 
the mountainous terrain delivering their ordnance 
with extreme accuracy while under fire from the 
enemy machineguns. With their ammunition ex- 
pended and the enemy advance apparently stalled, 
the flight returned to base. Shortly after sunrise the 
section was again scrambled to assist the Marine 
patrol. Once again the duo attacked the enemy 
allowing the patrol to move to safety. For his actions 
during these missions. Captain Hale was awarded the 
Distinguished Flying Cross, 

While eight large-unit operations were conducted 
in July 1966, the majority of VMA-223's missions 
supported Operation HASTINGS just south of the 
DMZ. Operation HASTINGS, which began on 7 
July, was the largest Marine /ARVN offensive 
operation to date, involving seven USMC and five 
ARVN battalions. The enemy consisted of three 
regiments of the 324B NVA Division. Before the 
first NVA attack could be launched, ground units 
supported by Skyhawks, Phantoms, and numerous 
flights of helicopters hit the enemy and drove ±em 
back across the DMZ. When HASTINGS ended on 
3 August, the enemy toll was 824 killed and 14 cap- 
tured. The air-ground team had done its job well.*** 

Personnel shortages became a problem during 
August. Squadron members who had completed 
their overseas tours rotated back to the United States 

and replacements were not arriving fast enough to 
keep the unit at combat strength. This did not seem 
to hamper the Bulldogs' performance. During the 
month each pilot averaged 32 sorties and 41 hours of 
flight time as the squadron accumulated a total of 
1,100 flight hours. 

In September 1966, VMA-223 reached its low 
point in personnel strength with only 18 aviators, 6 
ground officers, and 132 enlisted men assigned. 
Considering the unit had 32 officers and 184 enlisted 
men in June, this was a significant reduction. Even 
with this reduced number of personnel, the squadron 
logged 925 sorties and 1,216 flight hours while 
receiving a bomb damage assessment (BDA) of 238 
structures either destroyed or damaged, 30 secondary 
explosions, 26 enemy killed, 18 storage bunkers 
destroyed, 5 bridges either damaged or destroyed, 
and numerous supply routes hit. The only damage to 
the squadron's jets was one hit by small arms fire 
through the right wing of First Lieutenant Robert 
Tieken, Jr.'s A-4 and a small arms hit in the tail 
section of an A-4 piloted by Captain James S. 

On 21 September the command suffered seven 
casualties when Chu Lai came under mortar attack. 
The enemy barrage of 25-30 rounds began at 0117 
and lasted only five minutes. The initial rounds 
impacted short of the runway, but the subsequent 
rounds fell in a pattern progressing across the runway 
towards the group command post, and into the 
enlisted men's living area. All casualties sustained 
multiple wounds from shell fragments. Corporal 
Wayne E. Bostwick was seriously wounded and 
treated at the U.S. military hospital at Da Nang and 
subsequently evacuated to the United States, The 
other men wounded, Sergeant Richard E. Hicks, 
Corporals Willie P. Deloatch, and Dennie L. 
Peterson, Lance Corporals Michael C. Ransom, and 
Douglas H. Wood, and Private First Class Dietmar 
H. Fouche were treated at Chu Lai and returned to 
duty within five days. 

Also during the month of September, Captain 
Charles A. EHxon flew the squadron's 15,000th 
accident-free hour. Additionally, Second Lieutenant 
David A. Marshall flew his 100th combat mission on 
the 16th to become one of the first Marine second 
lieutenants of the Vietnam War to accomplish this 
feat in fixed-wing tactical aircraft. 

The monsoon season in October and November 
brought continuous torrential rains and high winds 
to Vietnam which severely curtailed flight 


operations. The Bulldogs managed to fly 1,000 hours 
in October and they were able to destroy numerous 
enemy tunnels, structures, and personnel in 

On 1 December the Bulldogs were able to leave the 
monsoon rains and combat operations. Under the 
command of Lieutenant Colonel Leonard C. Taft, 
VMA-223 exchanged places and aircraft with VMA- 
121 at Iwakuni, Japan, and once again came under 
the control of MAG-15 . 

While assigned to MAG-15, a detachment was 
sent to NAS, Cubi Point for participation in the close 
air support exercise MUD PUPPY IL At the same 
time the Bulldogs at Iwakuni provided support for 
Operation HAPPY FACE. During this annual 
operation at MCAS, Iwakuni, orphans from the area 
were brought on board the base for a day of fun, food, 
and gifts while many of the men worked the con- 
cessions or became volunteer fathers for the day . 

Despite adverse weather, the squadron managed to 
deploy some A-4s to NAS, Naha, Okinawa for live 
ordnance training. The final deployment before 
returning to the war zone was to Cubi Point for 
participation in MUD PUPPY EI. Then on 1 March 
1%7^ VMA-223 was back at Chu Lai, Vietnam 
much refreshed after its brief tour in Japan. 

It was not long before the enemy officially 
welcomed VMA-223 back into country. On 6 March 
Chu Lai was hit by approximately 60 rounds of 82mm 
mortar fire. The majority of the rounds fell in the 
company grade officers living area, but only minor 
injuries were suffered. 

On 15 March the Bulldogs lost an aircraft. An A- 
4, piloted by Captain Stanley P. Krueger, was hit by 
ground fire and the pilot's only course of action was 
to head out to sea and eject. An Air Force SAR 
helicopter quickly arrived and returned the uninjured 
Captain Krueger to safety. 

Combat missions continued during the spring of 
1967 in support of in Marine Amphibious Force 
ground units and the Seventh Air Force. In May the 
tempo of operations increased and the squadron 
responded by flying 1276 sorties in 1645 flight hours 
establishing a new record for an A-4 squadron. 
Unfortunately, this accomplishment was not without 
its cost . 

On 10 May, while Major Carmine W. Depietro 
and Captain Stephen W. Lind pounded the enemy in 
the I>ong Ha area killing 25 NVA soldiers. Major 
Robert L. Snyder, a MAG-12 staff officer flying with 
the Bulldogs, was also in the Dong Ha area. As he 

USMC Photo A421611 
A VMA-22i pilot launches from the hot pad at 
Chu Lai in March 1%1 . The A-4E is armed with 
four, 19-shot 2J5 rocket pods. The centerline pod is 
an auxiliary fuel tank. 

was about to roll in on target, his plane was hit by a 
surface- to -air missile (SAM); the plane was 
destroyed and Major Snyder was killed. Three days 
later. Captain George A. Kinser was rescued by a 
helicopter approximately three miles northwest of 
Dong Ha after ejecting from his A-4 which had been 
disabled by enemy ground fire. In all, two aircraft 
were destroyed and seven others damaged due to 
enemy action during May 1967.^^ 

The June monthly total of 938 sorties and 1,149 
flight hours reflected the decline in enemy activity 
which followed large scale assaults of the previous 
month. For Major Martin A. Yamell and Captain 
Henry E. Lecy, the situation on 16 June did not seem 
any different than they had experienced in May. 
While standing the alert duty, a call came to launch 
in support of a Marine unit which was in heavy 
contact with Viet Cong forces 25 miles southwest of 
Da Nang. Two Marine positions 150 meters apart 
were under attack. The Marines in one position were 
fighting hand-to-hand with the VC while the second 
position was under heavy automatic weapons fire. 
Using white smoke, the tactical air controller, 
airborne, put the Skyhawk pilots directly on 
target— a tree line with fighting holes and trenches 
that protected the VC weapons. Carrying 250- and 
5 00- pound bombs, the two jets rolled in on the 
enemy positions. The VC responded with automatic 
weapons fire in an attempt to stop the attacking 
planes. At almost tree-top level, the Bulldog pilots 
dropped their ordnance right on top of the enemy. By 
the time the A-4s had expended their ammuntion, 
the Marines on the ground were able to repulse the 
remaining VC forces. 

The squadron ended the month and fiscal year 
with an impressive total of 24,535 consecutive ac- 


cident-free flight hours of which 14,736 hours were 
flown in a combat environment. On the basis of its 
continuing performance and impressive safety 
record, VMA-223 was selected by MAG-12 as the 
group's nominee for the Commandant's Aviation 
Efficiency Trophy for fiscal year 1967 . 

During the month of July, the squadron operated 
almost exclusively in support of III MAF ground 
units deployed in the I Corps area. Ground 
operations were light compared to May and parts of 
June, but the steady pace of air operations on all 31 
days of the month saw the squadron amass a total of 
1 ,42 3 flight hours and 1 , 106'sorties . This total placed 
VMA-223 as the high squadron in MAG-12 for the 
third consecutive month. 

During August combat operations continued 
primarily in support of ground operations throughout 
the I Corps area, although 6^ sorties were flown 
north of the DMZ against enemy artillery and an- 
tiaircraft positions which were influencing 3d Marine 
Division operations. On 13 August 1967, Captain 
Wesley R. Phenegar, attached to Headquarters and 
Maintenance Squadron 12, was flying a VMA-223 
aircraft when the jet developed engine trouble and 
crashed killing the pilot. 

During the autumn months, VMA-223 continued 
providing support to ground units in RVN as well as 
striking enemy targets north of the DMZ. With the 
exception of a few .50 and .30 caliber hits, the A -4 
pilots managed to evade fire. On 20 November the 
squadron received its third consecutive CNO 
Aviation Safety Award. The Bulldogs commanding 
officer. Lieutenant Colonel Arthur W. Anthony, Jr. , 
attributed this accomplishment to the skill, 
dedication, and professionalism of the unit's 
maintenance personnel. 

Upon completion of normal operations on 1 
December 1967, VMA-223 was officially relieved at 
Chu Lai by VMA-211. The Bulldogs, having ac- 
cumulated 15,414 combat sorties and 19,826' combat 
flight hours, left Vietnam for another tour at Iwakuni 
with MAG-15. TTiis time their respite was to last 
more than four months. 

From Japan the squadron sent two small detach- 
ments to NAS Cubi Point and one to Okinawa. The 
first deployment to the Philippines, from 10-15 
December, consisted of 5 pilots, 16'enlisted men, and 
4 planes which provided air support for the 9th 
Marine Amphibious Brigade's Special Landing Force 
on Operation BLT LEX 1-68. The exercise also 
included the training of tactical air control parties in 

utilizing * 'in -country" procedures for effective 
control of Marine air. Again, from 9-24 January 
1%8, the Bulldogs had a detachment at Cubi Point. 
This deployment was for the express purpose of 
training newly joined pilots in conventional ordnance 

In addition to the training received during these 
deployments, the pilots practiced aerial refueling, 
tactics, and instrument flying. After a deployment to 
Naha Air Base, Okinawa, from 3-16' March, the 
Bulldogs prepared for the return to Vietnam. On 17 
April, the advance party, consisting of 7 officers and 
42 enlisted men, departed MCAS, Iwakuni and 
arrived the following day at Chu Lai. The squadron 
aircraft were flown to Vietnam on the 22d while the 
remainder of the squadron personnel boarded 
VMGR-152 's KC-130S. On the morning of 23 April, 
VMA-223 with 29 aviators, 4 ground officers, and 
224 enlisted men was again in Vietnam. 

Flight operations, consisting primarily of close air 
support missions, were conducted as the Bulldogs 
provided assistance for operations of the 82d and 
101st Airborne Divisions, 1st Air Cavalry EHvision, 
1st Korean Marine Brigade, as well as Marines in I 
Corps. In total, the squadron supported 12 ground 
operations and flew direct air support missions into 
North Vietnam hitting artillery sites that were 
threatening elements of the 3d Marine Division . 

On 1 May 196S, Lieutenant Colonel Erin D. Smith 
relieved Lieutenant Colonel Anthony as com- 
manding officer. Unfortunately, Lieutenant Colonel 
Smith's tour did not begin the way a new skipper 
would like. On 6' May, Captain Manuel A. Guzman 
was involved in a mid-air collision with an A-4E 
during a close air support mission in the A Shau 
Valley. Captain Guzman, leading a two -plane 
section, was passing through 10,000 feet over the 
target when his jet collided with another A -4 which 
was departing the target area. Captain Guzman lost 
control of his jet and had to eject immediately, while 
the pilot of the other Skyhawk was able to reach the 
coast before having to eject. Both pilots were rescued 
by helicopter. TTien on 24 May, Captain Steven J. 
Driscoll was shot down by .50 caliber fire while 
attacking an enemy gun position 30 miles northwest 
of Chu Lai. Once again the pilot successfully ejected 
and was rescued by helicopter. 

Not all the losses that befell the squadron in May 
occurred in the skies over Vietnam. On 13 May, 
after a night combat mission, Corporal Arthur L. 
Waldorf was critically burned in a flash fire which 


USMC Photo A26453 

A Sky hawk in flight over South Vietnam. VMA-223 flew the A -4E for six years from 1964-1970. 

occurred during refueling operations on the flight 
line. Corporal Albert J. Faung, seeing Corporal 
Waldorf engulfed in flames, rushed to him, tore off 
his burning clothing, and helped him to a nearby 
water barrel. Corporal Waldorf was evacuated to 
Japan, but died from his injuries on 22 May. Cor- 
poral Faung was awarded the Navy and Marine 
Corps Medal for his heroic attempt to save Waldorf 
from the flames. 

The series of mishaps that plagued the unit during 
May continued on into June. On 6' June a Skyhawk 
was taxiing into the line when the left brake failed. 
The plane veered to the right and ran off the taxiway 
hitting a passenger boarding ramp with the right 
wing tip. The nose and main gear then sank into soft 
sand and the aircraft overturned. The pilot, Captain 
Charles B. Coltrin, was uninjured, but the jet was 
seriously damaged. On 25 June, Captain Coltrin was 
again in the cockpit attacking an automatic weapons 
position near Khe Sanh when his Skyhawk was hit by 
.50 caliber fire. Captain Coltrin ejected safely and was 
recovered by helicopter. 

On 24 June Major Ralph K. Park's aircraft settled 
back onto the runway after takeoff rupturing the 
centerline fuel tank. The aircraft slid down the 
runway leaving a trail of flames behind it; ap- 
proaching the end of the runway Major Park ejected. 
Major Park suffered a fractured ankle and first and 
second degree bums and the Skyhawk received major 
damage and was transferred to the rework facility in 

In an effort to reduce Communist influence around 
its base, VMA-223 launched an aggressive civic 
action program. In June 196^, the men of the 
squadron donated $480 to establish a scholarship 
fund for children of the E>ong Cong School at Chu 
Lai. The Bulldogs also devoted many off-duty hours 
to the construction and repair of school facilities . 

The rash of aircraft mishaps seemed to come to an 
end in June, and for the next three months the 
squadron operated with the same degree of success 
they had enjoyed prior to May. During this period of 
July through October 196S, VMA-223 averaged 
over 1,000 hours a month of accident-free flight time. 
A few Skyhawks received hits from small arms fire, 
but none were seriously damaged nor were any of the 
pilots injured. The Bulldog's missions kept them 
primarily over RVN, but in July they flew 120 
missions against targets in North Vietnam. 

Although unit strength remained relatively 
constant, the squadron lost six comb at -experienced 
pilots in August through normal rotation or 
assignment to forward air controller (FAC) billets. 
Replacements were equal in number, but five of the 
six new pilots lacked combat experience . In response 
to the buildup of enemy forces in the Chu Lai area 
and the increasing threat of ground attack, the 
VMA-223 Ground Defense Company, led by 
Captain Jon M. Zayachek , conducted tactical 
briefings, test fired and zeroed its weapons and 
fortified its defensive positions. The defense company 


was alerted during two nights in August, but there 
were no fire incidents or contact with the enemy. 

In October, monsoon rains caused many missions 
to be cancelled, however, the Bulldogs still managed 
to fly 890 hours. While the majority of the flight time 
was in support of small unit operations, the squadron 
did take part in the following large-scale operations. ^° 

Operation Unit 

MAUI PEAK 7th Marines/51st ARVN Regiment 

SCOTLAND II 4th Marines/2d ARVN Regiment 

LANCASTER II 26th Marines 

NEVADA EAGLE U.S. Army's Americal Division 

All hopes of salvaging the squadron 's safety record 
was lost on 1 October 1968. A single -plane ground - 
controlled bombing mission flown by First 
Lieutenant David I. Habermacher, Jr., came to an 
abrupt end when the A-4 crashed on takeoff. Due to a 
blown tire the plane lifted off on the extreme left side 
of the runway. The right main gear struck an 
arresting gear engine and the left gear struck a 
revetment. As the aircraft began to settle. Lieutenant 
Habermacher safely ejected. The Skyhawk hit the 
ground and burst into flames completely destroying 
the jet. 

On 15 October 1968, Lieutenant Colonel Smith 
ended his tour as commanding officer and Major 
Leonard T. Preston, Jr., became the number one 
Bulldog. Unfortunately, his tour did not begin very 
well either. On 21 October, Captain David A. 
Wellman landed at Chu Lai just after dark. With his 
attention focused primarily on watching the runway 
ahead of him. Captain Wellman did not notice that he 
was on the right edge of the runway until just before 
the right wing of his jet struck the arresting gear 
revetment. As the aircraft continued up the runway, 
the wing separated from the fuselage. The pilot 
suffered an injured shoulder, and the A-4 was 

During November, VMA-223 flew 1,110 hours 
and 1,035 sorties of which 1,070 hours and 997 
sorties were flown in support of combat operations. 
The Bulldogs flew 75 more sorties than any other 
squadron in MAG-12 during the month. The 
squadron also exceeded, by 275 sorties and 202 
hours, the previous November high for a MAG-12 
Vietnam-based squadron. More than 1,433 tons of 
aviation ordnance were expended, and air operations 
were conducted all 30 days of the month. 

In December it was business as usual for the 
members of VMA-223. The mission flown by the 
pilots cost the enemy 185 bunkers, 243 struc- 

tures,and 5 gun sites. The 1,723 tons of explosives 
dropped also accounted for 43 secondary fires and 28 
secondary explosions. The following month was 
nearly identical for the Bulldogs with approximately 
the same results. 

Later in January, a squadron A-4, piloted by 
Captain Michael P. Green, was shot down while 
flying close air support for units of the 1st Marine 
Division near Thuong Due. Captain Green received 
several hits from enemy small arms fire, but he 
managed to get the crippled Skyhawk out over the 
ocean before he ejected. A U. S. Navy boat picked 
him up and returned him, uninjured, to Chu Lai. 

February 1969 was another record month for the 
men of VMA-223. The squadron flew 965 sorties, 
177 more than any other MAG-12 unit, and set a 
new record for the month of February. The previous 
record for that month was set in 1968 by VMA-121 
when it flew 908 sorties. Also during the month, the 
squadron reached 30,000 hours flown in support of 
combat operations since it first arrived in Vietnam. 

March was another successful month for the unit 
as it continued pounding the enemy with the same 
results it had had in the previous few months. The 
squadron personnel took a few minutes out of their 
schedule on 10 March when the MAG-12 com- 
mander. Colonel Thomas H. Nichols, Jr., visited the 
unit to congratulate First Lieutenant Dennis R. 
Grose on completing VMA-223's 25,000th combat 

On 21 March 1969, the squadron provided 
assistance for Marine units under attack, but this 
time the help came from the men on the ground 
rather than the pilots in their Skyhawks. During the 
early morning hours, the VC rocketed the Chu Lai 
complex. Several rockets impacted in the line area of 
VMA-211 and VMA-311. In a valiant attempt to 
save the aircraft of these squadrons from further 
damage, a number of men from VMA-223 assisted 
the neighboring squdrons in pushing aircraft to more 
secure areas. During this period, five Bulldogs: 
Master Sergeant John D. Simmerman, Staff Sergant 
Stanley L Spawn, and Lance Corporals Edwin D. 
Montgomery, Kenneth R. Moore, and Robert D. 
Shepard, distinguished themselves and were awarded 
the Bronze Star for their courage and dedication. 
Throughout the months of March -September the 
Bulldogs continued flying without an accident and 
conducted air operations every day for seven con- 
secutive months. 

On 10 April Major Preston relinquished command 


of the squadron to Lieutenant Colonel Merrill S. 
Newbill. During Newbill's tour as commanding 
officer VMA-223 again lead the other squadrons in 
MAG-12 in sorties and flight time. 

Lieutenant Colonel Newbill completed his tour as 
commanding officer 27 September and was replaced 
by Lieutenant Colonel James W. Lazzo. The 
squadron closed out a fairly quiet September with 588 
flight hours logged, but the Bulldogs now had ac- 
cumulated a very respectable total of 11,400 accident- 
free hours. 

Between 1 October and 31 December 1969, bad 
weather and the enemy's avoidance of large-scale 
engagements decreased the number of Bulldog 
commitments to the point that the unit averaged only 
515 hours and 420 sorties per month. EHiring this 
three-month period, VMA-223 supported three 
major operations in I Corps: 

GENEVA PARK 84 sorties 

IRON MOUNTAIN Ill sorties 

VICTORY DRAGON 187 sorties 

President Richard M. Nixon, on 16 December 
1969, announced his intention to withdraw 50,000 
men from Vietnam . This was the third such 
reduction in U. S. strength,* and MAG-12 began 
preparations to leave Vietnam.^* 

On 14 January 1970, VMA-223 launched 10 
sorties as lieutenant Colonel Lazzo led his Bulldogs 
on their final day of combat operations. The men 
then set about the task of packing equipment and 
preparing the jets for the long trans-Pacific flight 
home. On 28 January, having expended more than 
34,260 tons of ordnance and flying 32,06B sorties in 
38,375 hours during the Vietnam deployment 
VMA-22 3 was on its way home . 

Accompanied by F-4 Phantoms from VMFA-542, 
20 VMA-223 Skyhawks in four five-plane divisions 
led by Lieutenant Colonel Lazzo, departed from Chu 
Lai on Operation KEY WALLOP, the largest trans- 
Pacific flight to date. The grueling flight, which 
spanned more than 8,000 miles, required more than 
20 hours of flight time per aircraft. Rest and 
maintenance stops were made in the Philippines, 
Guam, Wake kland, and Hawaii and inflight 
refueling was accomplished along the way with 
Marine KC-130s. On 8 February 1970, after nearly 5 

*The first reduction in U. S. strength, 25,000 men, was 
announced on 8 June 1969 followed three months later, on 17 
September, by the announcement of another reduaion of 
40,500 men. 

1/2 years in the Far East, VMA-223 arrived at El 
Toro, and for this squadron at least, Vietnam had 
become history. 

The Return to Garrison 

Marine Attack Squadron 223 was assigned to 
MAG-33, 3d MAW, El Toro and placed in a cadre 
status upon its return to the United States. During 
March the squadron had only 6' officers and 22 
enlisted men, and their 20 A-4s had been transferred 
to VMA-214, the Black Sheep squadron. 

On 31 July, while still in a cadre status, the 
squadron received its first replacement aircraft, an A- 
4F. The A-4F was 2.3 feet longer and had a 1,150 
pound increase in takeoff weight over the A-4E. This 
newest A-4 also had a larger wheel base, an increased 
fuel capacity to 870 gallons, more advanced avionics, 
wing-lift spoilers for improved crosswind per- 
formance, and nose wheel steering.^^ Twelve ad- 
ditional A-4Fs were acquired from August to 
December 1970. On 1 September VMA-223 joined 

During the first six months of 1971, VMA-223 
faced the usual problems associated with building and 
training a reconstituted squadron. One of the most 
serious of these problems was the lack of experienced 
personnel. Most of the aviators assigned to the 
squadron were fresh out of flight training. The few 
available staff noncommissioned officers worked long 
hours training the enlisted men and providing the 
pilots with ready aircraft. In spite of these difficulties, 
the squadron was able to increase its total flight hours 
from 891 for the last half of 1970 to 2,543 for the first 
six months of 1971. 

On 28 February, the squadron made its first 
movement since returning from Vietnam. With 
eight aircraft, VMA-223 deployed to MCAS Yuma, 
Arizona, for two weeks of training. During this 
training cycle, new pilots were introduced to con- 
ventional weapons delivery while the more ex- 
perienced pilots had the opportunity to regain their 

On 25 May, after 21 months of command, 
lieutenant Colonel Lazzo was relieved by Major 
Alfonso Oseguera. The squadron then began 
preparations for its second deployment. On 1 June, 
18 pilots, 108 enlisted men, and eight Skyhawks 
departed for NAS Fallon, Nevada, for three weeks. 

After an annual administrative and material in- 
spection in July 1971, the unit deployed to MCAS 
Yuma. Training was conducted in nuclear weapons 


USMC Photo A331747 

A-4Es of Marine Attack Squadron 223 parked on a ramp at NAS Cubi Point while en route back to the United 

delivery and advanced tactical conventional weapons 
procedures. On 3 January 1972, the Bulldogs 
returned to H Toro. 

During the early months of 1972, VMA-223 
conducted routine flight operations centered around 
nuclear and conventional weapons delivery, SATS 
operations, and instrument refresher training. 
Preparations for a permanent move to MCAS Yuma 
were initiated during March and on 1 June the move 
began. By the third week in June, the squadron's 
relocation was completed. 

Though severely handicapped by personnel 
shortages, the squadron continued to prepare pilots 
for combat should the need arise. The transition to a 
peacetime environment had been completed suc- 
cessfully. During the period of July through 
December 1972, the unit flew more hours than any 
other 3d MAW tactical squadron. The Bulldogs 
continued training and in May 1973, with only 72 
hours notice, VMA-223 deployed to NAS Fallon 
with 16 jets for a training readiness exercise. The 

following month the squadron was again put to the 
test; this time it was a nuclear weapons acceptance 
inspection . On both occasions the squadron 
demonstrated a high degree of professionalism and 
successfully completed the requirements that were 
placed upon it. 

In October the Bulldogs added another dimension 
to their aerial abilities. The high thrust of the A-4 
was similar to many of the aircraft possessed by 
Communist countries, and it soon became an in- 
valuable asset in training fighter aircrews in com- 
bating aircraft of this type. Consequently, the VMA- 
223 pilots acquired the role as aggressors for air 
combat maneuvering (ACM) training, A detach- 
ment was sent first in October to Nellis AFB where 
the squadron pilots proved to be extremely skilled 
competitors when opposing fighters from the USAF 
Fighter Weapons School. 

Later in the month, the pilots went to NAS 
Miramar where they opposed Navy fighters from 
VF-1 and -2. The Bulldogs' ACM reputation was 


USMC Photo A707810 
A VMA-223 Skyhawk in flight. The Bulldogs are stationed at MCAS Yuma, 

further enhanced during February 1974 when the 
unit was selected to evaluate an air combat 
maneuvering range for the Marine Corps. From 11 
through 22 February, the squadron flew ACM 
missions involving dissimilar types of aircraft. The 
efforts of the ground personnel and the aggres- 
siveness of the aviators contributed significantly to 
the successful evaluation of the ACM range. 

Throughout the remainder of 1974 and 1975, the 
officers and men of the Yuma-based VMA-223 
continued flight operations and intensive training. 
From 20-23 January 1976 the Bulldogs had a live 
firing air-to-air gunnery exercise, and at the end of 
April the squadron participated in a live Sidewinder 
missile shoot. The experience gained from these 
exercises became evident when VMA-223 topped all 
squadrons in the 3d MAW bombing competition 
held during May 1976. The Bulldogs won first place 
in both team and individual pilot competition. 

From on 23-31 July 1976, a transpac flight of all 17 
aircraft was conducted from MCAS Yuma to MCAS 

Iwakuni, Japan. The termination of the transpac 
operation resulted in the change of administrative 
and operational control from the 3d MAW to the 1st 
MAW and assignment to MAG- 12. 

While deployed overseas VMA-223 worked as 
adversary aircraft against the Navy's F-14 Tomcats 
at NAS Cubi Point, P.I., and flew in support of 
Operation MULTIPLEX, a Japanese Air Self- 
Defense Force exercise. The squadron also par- 
ticipated in Exercise COPE THUNDER HI at Qark 
AFB, P.L, and from 14 October to 3 November 
supported MAG- 10 in the major amphibious 
Australia. Capping off the year the squadron flew on 
board the USS Enterprise (CVN 6^) for carrier 
qualification . 

VMA-223 constantly maintains its alertness and 
readiness and has proven its worth from Guadalcanal 
to Vietnam. It stands ready to answer the call of its 
country anytime, anywhere. 



From Birth to Guadalcanal 

Unless otherwise noted, the material in this section is 
derived from Robert Sherrod, History of Marine Corps 
Aviation in World War H, (Washington: Combat Forces Press, 
1952), hereafter, Sherrod, Aviation; and Marine Fighting 
Squadron 223 War Diaries, August 1942 - June 1943 hereafter, 
VMF-223 War Diary and date. 

1. Jane 's All the World's Aircraft 1942, compiled and edited 
by Leonard Bridgman, (New York: MacMillan Co., 1943) p. 
156c., hereafter, /awe V Aircraft and date. 

2. Ibid, p. 185c. 

3. Sherrod, Aviation, p. 79. 

4. The Tampa Tribune, 1 October 1942, p. 12. 

5. Flight Jacket, (MCAS El Toro, California) 3 August 
1962, p. 5, hereafter. Flight Jacket and date. 

6. USMC World War II Casualty Report, Case History 
Cards, (HistRefSec, Hist&MusDiv, HQMC). 

From the Solomons to Okinawa 

Unless otherwise noted, the material in this section is 
derived from Sherrod, Aviation; VMF-223 War Diaries, July 
1943 - August 1945; and VMA-223 Squadron History File 
(HistRefSec, Hist&MusDiv, HQMC), hereafter VMA-223 

I.Jane's Aircraft, 1943 - 1944, p. 234c. 

8. USMC Casualty Report, op, cit, 

9. VMF-223 War Diary, January 1945. 

10. /6/V/., June 1945. 

A Force in Readiness: 1946 to 193C 

Material in this section is derived from VMF-223 Muster 
RoUs, February 1946 - 15 December 1949; Flight Jacket, 
February 1946 - June 1948; Windsock, (MCAS Cherry Point, 
North Carolina), July 1948 - January 1950, All material is 
located in HistRefSec, Hist&MusDiv, HQMC, 

Entering the Jet Age 

Unless otherwise noted, the material in this section is 
dervied from VMA-223 Unit Diaries, 1950-1960; Flight 
Jacket, May 1950 - April 1965. 

n. Jane's Aircraft, 1949- 1950, p. 228c. 

12. Flight Jacket, 6 November 1956, p. 1. 

II, Jane's Aircraft, 343-344. 

14, Flight Jacket, 20 September I960, p. 2, 
Jane's Aircraft, pp. 285-286. 


Unless otherwise noted, the material in this section is 
derived from 1st MAW Command Chronologies, Infor- 
mational Services Office Appendix, June 1965 - December 
1969; MAG-12 Command Chronologies, June 1965 - June 
1969; VMA-223 Command Chronologies, June 1965 - 
February 1970. All chronologies are located in HistRe5ec, 
Hist&MusDiv, HQMC. 

16. Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, Operation of the Marine 
Forces in Vietnam , December 1965 , (HistRefSec, 
Hist&MusDiv, HQMC) p. 8. hereafter. Marines in Vietnam, 

17. 1st MAW SitRep msg 03223Z, dtd 3 Jun 66, cited in 1st 
MAW Command Chronology, Daily SitRep Appendix, June 

18. Marines in Vietnam, August 1966, p. 3. 

19. Marines in Vietnam, May 1967. p. 11. 

20. Marines in Vietnam ,Ocx.ohGT 1968, p. 27. 

21. LtGen Keith B, McCutcheon, "Marine Aviation in 
Vietnam 1962-1970," Naval Review 1971 (Annapolis: U.S. 
Naval Institute, 1971) p. 153, 

The Return to Garrison 

Material in this section is derived from VMA-223 Command 
Chronologies, January 1970 - June 1974, 

22. McDonnell Douglas "News" Market Intelligence 
Report, Oct 66, p, 2. 




1 May 1942 Activated as Marine Fighting Squadron 223, 29 Jan 1950 

MAG-23, 2d MAW, FMF at NAS Barbers 4 Sep 1950 
Point, Territory of Hawaii. 

2 Aug 1942 Departed Pearl Harbor. 21 Jul 1953 

22 Aug 1942 Arrived at Guadalcanal and assigned to 1st 7 Aug 1953 


18 Dec 1942 Redesignated VMF-223. MAG-23, Service 11 Sep 1953 

Group, Marine Aircraft Wing Pacific, FMF. 
13 Oct 1942 Departed Guadalcanal. 

17 Oct 1942 Arrived at San Diego, California and redesignated 30 Sep 1954 

VMF-223, MAG-23, 1st MAW, FMF. 

19 Jul 1943 Departed San Diego. 1 Dec 1954 

27 Jul 1943 Arrived at Pearl Harbor and assigned to M AG-22, 12 Sep 1955 

4th Marine Base Defense Air Wing. 

I Aug 1943 Arrived Naval Operating Base, Midway Island. 23 Apr 1956 

18 Aug 1943 Redesignated VMF-223, MAG-22, FMF. 

13 Nov 1943 Arrived at Efate, New Hebrides and assigned to 4 Nov 1956 

MAG-12, 2d MAW. 30 Mar 1963 

19 Jan 1944 Departed Efate. 2 Apr 1963 
25 Jan 1944 Arrived at Bougainville, British Solomon Islands 

and assigned to M AG-24, 1st MAW . 2 Apr 1964 

14 Mar 1944 Departed Bougainville. 

16 Mar 1944 Arrived at Green Island, British Solomon Islands 1 Sep 1965 

and assigned to MAG-14, 1st MAW. 
24Junl944 Reassigned to M AG-24, 1st MAW. 15 Sep 1965 

12 Jan 1945 Arrived at Samar, Philippine Islands. 

23 May 1945 Reassigned to MAG-14, 2d MAW . 16 Dec 1965 
22 Jun 1945 Arrived at Okinawa Shima and assigned to MAG- 

24, 1st MAW. 4 Dec 1966 

II Feb 1946 Departed Okinawa. 

28 Feb 1946 Arrived at Marine Corps Air Depot Miramar, San 1 Mar 1967 

Diego, California and assigned to MAG-33, 

Marine Air West Coast. 3 Dec 1967 

15 Mar 1946 Relocated to MCAS El Toro, California. 

1 Oct 1947 Redesignated VMF-223, MAG-33. 1st MAW, 23 Apr 1968 

8 Jun 1948 Relocated to MCAS Cherry Point, North Carolina 28 Jan 1970 

and assigned to MAG-14, 2d MAW . 
1 Aug 1948 Squadron designation changed from Marine 8 Feb 1970 

Fighting Squadron 223, MAG-14 to Marine 

Fighter Squadron 223, MAG-ll. 1 Jun 1972 

5 Sep 1949 Embarked on board the USS Leyte and sailed from 

Quonset, Rhode Island to Gibraltar and France. 
Oct 1949 - Port calls at Malta, Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Sicily, 23 Jul 1976 
Jan 1950 and North Africa. 

Returned to MCAS, Cherry Point. 

Redesignated VMF-223, MAG-14, 2d MAW, 

Reassigned to MAG-ll. 

Departed Morehead City, North Carolina on 
board the USS Deuel for Far East deployment. 

Arrived at Yokosuka, Japan and assigned to 
MAG-ll, 1st MAW, Air FMFPac at NAS 

Relocated to MCAS El Toro and assigned to 

MAG-15, AirFMFPac. 
Redesignated Marine Attack Squadron 223. 
Redesignated VMA-223, MAG-15, 2d MAW, 

Embarked on board the USS Wasp and sailed from 

San Diego for a deployment to the Far East. 
Returned to MAG-15, MCAS El Toro. 
Departed El Toro for Far East tour. 
Arrived at MCAS Iwakuni, Japan and assigned to 

MAG-12, 1st MAW, FMFPac. 
Returned to MCAS El Toro and assigned to 

MAG-15, 3d MAW, Air FMFPac. 
Departed San Diego on board the USS Valley 

Forge for Far East deployment. 
Arrived at Iwakuni, Japan and assigned to MAG- 

13, 1st MAW, FMFPac. 
Deployed to Chu Lai, RVN and assigned to MAG- 
12, 1st MAW, FMFPac. 
Departed RVN for Iwakuni, Japan and assigned to 

MAG-15(Rein), 9th MAB, FMFPac. 
Returned to Chu Lai, RVN and rejoined MAG- 


Deployed to Iwakuni, Japan and rejoined MAG- 

Returned to Chu Lai, RVN and rejoined MAG- 

Departed Chu Lai, RVN on trans-Pac flight to 

Arrived MCAS El Toro and assigned to MAG-33, 

3d MAW, FMFPac. 
Relocated to MCAS Yuma, Arizona and assigned 

to Marine Combat Crew Readiness Training 

Group 10, 3d MAW. 
Deployed to Iwakuni, Japan and assigned to 

MAG-12, 1st MAW. 




Capt John L. Smith 1 May 1942 - 31 Dec 1942 

IstLt Conrad G. Winter 1 Jan 1943 - 13 Jan 1943 

Capt Howard K. Marvin 14 Jan 1943 - 25 Jan 1943 

Maj Marion E. Carl 26 Jan 1943 - 3 Feb 1944 

Maj Robert P. Keller 4 Feb 1944- 2 Jul 1944 

Maj David Drucker 3 Jul 1944 - 13 Oct 1944 

Maj Robert F. Flaherty 14 Oct 1944 - 30 Mar 1945 

Maj Robert W . TeUer 31 Mar 1945 - 16 Apr 1945 

Maj Howard E. King 17 Apr 1945 - 23 Jul 1945 

Maj Julius W. Ireland 24 Jul 1945 - 27 Feb 1946 

Maj James M. Johnson 28 Feb 1946 - 21 May 1947 

Maj Arthur F. O'Keefe 22 May 1947 - 8 Jun 1947 

Maj Michael R. Yunck 10 Jun 1947 - 6 Mar 1948 

Maj George F. Bastian 7 Mar 1948 - 5 May 1948 

LtCol Nathan T . Post, Jr. , 6 May 1948 - 14 Jul 1948 

Maj Richard W. Wyczawski 15 Jul 1948 - 24 Mar 1949 

Maj George F. Vaughan 25 Mar 1949 - 1 May 1949 

Maj Darren D.Irwin 2 May 1949 - 15 May 1950 

Maj Thomas G. Bronleewe, Jr 16 May 1950 - 19 Mar 1951 

Maj Robert R. Baker 20 Mar 1951 - 9 Apr 1951 

LtCol Frank E. Hollar 10 Apr 1951 - 15 Jul 1951 

LtCol Hoyle R. Barr 16 Jul 1951 - 8 Jul 1953 

LtCol HonoreG. Dalton 9 Jul 1953 - 20 Jan 1954 

LtCol Arvid W . Blackmun 29 Jan 1954 - 14 Jun 1954 

Maj James M. Burris 15 Jun 1954- 31 Aug 1954 

LtCol John McGuckin 1 Sep 1954 - 4 Nov 1954 

Maj Robert B.Laing 5 Nov 1954- 20 Sep 1955 

Maj Victor E. Allen 21 Sep 1955 - 4 Dec 1956 

LtCol WiUardC. Lemke 5 Dec 1956 - 22 May 1958 

Maj Ernest A. Buford, Jr 23 May 1958 - 21 Oct 1958 

LtCol Dave E. Severance 22 Oct 1958 - 9 Nov 1959 

Maj Boris J. Frankovic 10 Nov 1959 - 1 Aug I960 

Maj Marvin R. Stout 2 Aug I960 - 12 Nov 1961 

LtCol Norman L. Hamm 13 Nov 1961 - 30 Mar 1964 

LtCol Lawrence H. Brandon 31 Mar 1964 - 30 Sep 1964 

LtCol Tolbert T. Gentry 1 Oct 1964 - 15 Apr 1965 

Maj Harold C. Colvin 16 Apr 1965 - 15 Jul 1965 

LtCol Roy C.Gray, Jr., 16 Jul 1965 - 27 Sep 1965 

LtCol Alexander Wilson 28 Sep 1965 - 2 Apr 1966 

LtCol Robert B. Sinclair 3 Apr 1966 - 26 Nov 1966 

LtCol Leonard C . Taft 27 Nov 1966 - 25 Mar 1967 

LtCol Claude E. Deering 26 Mar 1967 - 26 Sep 1967 

LtColArthur W.Anthony 27 Sep 1967 - 30 Apr 1968 

LtCol Erin D. Smith 1 May 1968 - 15 Oct 1968 

Maj Leonard T. Preston, Jr 16 Oct 1968 - 10 Apr 1969 

LtCol MerriU S. NewbiU 11 Apr 1969 - 27 Sep 1969 

LtCol James W. Lazzo 28 Sep 1969 - 25 May 1971 

Maj Alfonso Oseguera 26 May 1971 - 31 May 1972 

LtCol Donald W. Dane 1 Jun 1972 - 7 Jun 1973 


Maj Martin J. Lenzini 

Maj Ronald E. Merrihew . . 

LtCol John A. Rooke 

LtCol Gordon O. Booth . . . 
Major Phillip R. Hemming . 
LtCol Robert H. Melville . . 
Major Phillip R. Hemming . 
LtCol Samuel D. Turner, Jr. 

. ,8Jun 1973 - 20 Junl974 
.21Jun 1974 - 27 Jun 1975 
.28Jun 1975 - 23 Apr 1976 
24 Apr 1976- 12 Aug 1977 
13 Aug 1977- 22 Aug 1977 
23 Aug 1977 - 31 July 1978 
,.1 Aug 1978 - 10 Sep 1978 
.11 Sept 1978 - 




Guadalcanal, 22 Aug - 13 Oct 1942 
Okinawa, 25 Jun - 14 Jul 1945 

Vietnam, 16 Dec 1965 - 1 Dec 1966 and 1 Mar - 15 Sep 1967 

Vietnam, 16 Dec 1965 - 15 Apr 1966 
Vietnam, 15 Sep -1 Decl967 
Vietnam, 24 Apr - 31 Mar 1969 

Capture and defense of Guadalcanal, 21 Aug - 13 Oct 1942 
Treasury- Bougainville operation, 13 Nov - 15 Dec 1948 
Consolidation of the northern Solomons, 17 Feb 1944 - 11 Jan 1945 
Consolidation of the southern Philippines, 10 Mar - 11 Jun 1945 
Okinawa Gunto operation, 25 Jun - 14 Jul 1945 

IMay 1942 - 31 Dec 1946 

Okinawa, 2 Sep 1945 - 11 Feb 1946 
Europe, 6 Sep 1949 - 17 Jan 1950 

27 Jun 1950 - 27 Jul 1954 
IJan 1961-15 Aug 1974 

Japan, 11 Sep 1953 -27 Jul 1954 

Vietnam Defense Campaign, 16 Dec - 24 Dec 1965 
Vietnamese Counteroffensive Campaign, 25 Dec 1965 - 30 Jun 1966 
Vietnamese Counteroffensive Phase II, 1 Jul - 4 Dec 1966 and 1 Mar - 31 May 1967 
Vietnamese Counteroffensive Phase III, 1 Jun -2 Dec 1967 
Vietnamese Counteroffensive Phase IV, 23 Apr - 30 Jun 1968 
Vietnamese Counteroffensive Phase V, 1 Jul - 1 Nov 1968 
Vietnam Counteroffensive Phase VI, 2 Nov 1968 - 22 Feb 1969 
Tet 69/Counteroffensive, 23 Feb - 8 Jun 1969 
Vietnam, Summer-Fall 1969, 9 Jun - 31 Oct 1969 
Vietnam, Winter-Spring 1970, 1 Nov 1969 - 7 Feb 1970 

lOMar- 11 Jun 1945 

12 Jan - 15 May 1945 

16 Dec 1965 - 4 Dec 1966, 1 Mar 1967 - 20 Sep 1969 

21 Sep 1969 -7 Feb 1970 



On the back cover: 

The squadron insignia for VMF-223 shows the ''Fighting 

Bulldog. ' '